Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has revealed that he didn’t have to convince William Saliba to stay at the club as the Frenchman was always determined to stay at Arsenal this season. The 20-year-old returned from loan at Marseille and was heavily linked with a permanent move back to France.
Despite signing for Arsenal in the summer of 2019 to a lot of hype, William Saliba struggled to make an impact at the club and was instead farmed out on loan by the Gunners. The Frenchman has spent the last three seasons out on loan with spells at St Etienne, OGC Nice and most recently at Olympique Marseille. It was there that Saliba truly matured as he finished the 2021/22 season by winning the Ligue 1’s Young Player of the Year award.
That combined with Arsenal’s already packed defensive roster had many believing that Saliba was set for a permanent move back to France but the Frenchman has stayed put at the Emirates Stadium so far. Not only that, he made his Premier League bow for the Gunners last week and ended the game with the man of the match award. It saw Arteta reveal that he never had to convince Saliba to stay as the Frenchman was determined to prove himself at the club.
“The reality is that he (William Saliba) was very convinced and determined to come here. He had no other choice (in his head), he never suggested anything else. From the first conversations I had with him, you could see that he only had one intention – to come here and start to play football matches for Arsenal,” Arteta said, reported the Athletic.
“I think expectations and positive expectations are created when you see something special in a player and it’s obvious: they’ve seen that, they see the talent. What I would say is, instead of doing that, just protect the player. Let’s protect him, let’s make sure he has the right environment to fulfil his potential and when things don’t go that well that we are as good as we are when things are going well.
However, while the young defender made a very impressive start to his Premier League career, Arteta has asked fans and critics alike to let Saliba make his mistakes because they are going to happen. Not only that, the Arsenal boss further revealed that because of the age of his squad at the moment, that is part and parcel of the game.
“Mistakes are part of football at 21 and 35. They’re going to happen, the mistakes that we want to happen are as much as possible on the training field and if they happen on the pitch they don’t cause you goals. That’s the objective. But inevitably, things will happen.
“I always said that especially with the young and development portfolio of players that we have in our squad, you have to pay a bill. And that bill is that at some stage they’re going to make mistakes, they’re going to experience things for the first time and they have to go through that process,” he added.