Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta explains why he didn’t speak to one Gunners star for a week
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has revealed that he didn’t speak to William Saliba for a whole week after the Frenchman rejoined his squad.
The Gunners paid Saint-Etienne £27m to land Saliba in 2019 but loaned the centre-half straight back to the French club for the upcoming season.
Expectations were raised that Saliba would be part of Arteta’s side for the 2020-21 campaign but the France international was later left out of Arsenal’s Premier League squad.
He left on loan again that January with Nice taking him until the end of the campaign before he spent 2021-22 on another season-long loan at Marseille, where he was named Ligue 1 Young Player of the Year.
That led to more speculation over whether he would stay at Arsenal or leave once again and Arteta has revealed that he used the first week of the Gunners’ pre-season tour in the summer to suss Saliba out.
When asked how Saliba’s reintegration into the squad went in the summer, Arteta replied: “The first question was how the player is going to reintegrate into our dynamic after being out for so long.
“Is there some frustration there, something personal between, for example, between me and the player because he could not understand that?
“Or his environment, his expectations coming back or the amount that we paid for him, his age?
“Is it the same to do it in France as it is to do it in this league for Arsenal because you don’t have 21-year-old defenders at the top level in England?’
“For the first week I didn’t speak to him. I just wanted to see – naturally, without me really interfering in his thoughts – how he was.
“Because then you can understand the real him and after that I spoke to him.”
Saliba has been brilliant for Arsenal this season with the 21-year-old helping Arteta’s men lead the way in the Premier League ahead of this weekend’s fixtures.
When asked how Saliba showed he was ready for first-team football at Arsenal, Arteta added: “He had an immediate impact… the first two training sessions that we looked at him and thought: ‘There’s huge potential here’.
“His attitude, the way he came in and said: ‘I’m going to prove that I’m very good and I deserve to be here.’ Without any looking back, or being shy – he was doing it the right way.”
When asked for an update on Saliba and Bukayo Saka’s contract situations, Arteta continued: “Every player is very important. There are players with special circumstances contractually. We are trying to deal with them.
“But I don’t want to cause any distraction with any of those conversations at this moment. Whenever something is ready to get done and it’s good news, we will announce it.”
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