William Saliba agreed to leave Arsenal to join Marseille on a season-long loan deal this summer, and it was the French club’s president whose encouraging comments helped to convince him.
Many had hoped that the defender would stay in north London this season to challenge for a first-team role at the club, but following the signing of Ben White from Brighton, the former St Etienne youngster agreed to take another loan spell in order to continue his progress.
We will never know if he could have fought his way into contention under Mikel Arteta this season, but there is little fault to take from his spell in Marseille where he has quickly established himself as a regular starter.
Saliba has now opened up on what Les Bleus president Pablo Longoria told him to convince him that he should join.
“Longoria told me that if I wanted to reach the next level in my progression, I had to come here. If you can perform at Marseille, to play under this pressure, you can play anywhere else,” Saliba told Telefoot, as quoted in Get French Football News.
“I hadn’t even signed yet and I was already getting messages from supporters. I’ve never seen passion like this, in this town the only thing that matters in OM.
“With [Jorge] Sampaoli, we have to give it our all from start to finish. We can’t do things half-heartedly. Sometimes I don’t put enough power on my passes and he tells me: ‘those are kids’ passes!’”
Could this loan spell be the perfect scenario to prepare Saliba for next season?