Mikel Arteta insists William Saliba is happy at Arsenal and wants to continue playing for the club despite doubts over his future.
Saliba, 21, has been one of the Gunners standout players during the first part of the Premier League campaign. The France international has played virtually every minute of their 15 top-flight games. He has formed an excellent partnership with Gabriel Magalhaes, with the Arsenal rearguard shipping just 12 league goals to date.
That has helped them to the top of the table. The north Londoners are five points clear of Manchester City having won 13 of their 15 league games.
And there is genuine optimism that the Emirates outfit can maintain their title push in 2022-2023.
Manager Mikel Arteta is expected to be given funds to strengthen his side in January.
But it may be that securing the future of Saliba is the most important business the club can do in the next few months.
He will be out of contract at the end of next season. And Arteta made it clear just how important it will be to tie down the Frenchman to a longer-term deal.
“We have a few of those that we are willing to extend the contract,” he told reporters, via the club’s website. “Willy is one of them.
“I think he’s shown in the months that he’s been with us the quality and the personality he has to play at the level that we want.
“We are trying to do that because we know he can be a really important part of our plans.”
Saliba key to Arsenal progression
There were not many pundits who tipped Arsenal to be top of the table at Christmas.
There was a vast improvement last term but losing out to Tottenham in the top-four race was a kick in the teeth.
Arteta has proved his credentials by lifting his charges to new heights. And the Spanish tactician has the makings of a superb young side.
He needs to keep his best players on board. And, with the way he has performed this season, Saliba certainly fits that bill.
The man from Bondy was loaned to Saint-Etienne, Nice and Marseille after joining Arsenal in the summer of 2019.
He did not kick a ball for the Gunners until this season. Marseille wanted to sign him on a permanent deal but Arteta made it clear he was staying in the capital.
And the manager’s decision has clearly paid off, with Saliba now firmly established in the first team.
Saliba tipped for the top
Former Arsenal star Emmanuel Petit feels he is already ‘one of the best defenders in the Premier League’.
The France World Cup winner has urged the club to keep him at the club at all costs.
Asked whether talks with the rangy centre-back were going well, Arteta played his cards close to his chest.
“I hope so,” he replied. “That’s more to Edu and the board to be discussing with him.
“What I know is that the player is really happy, the player wants to be here and that’s the main thing.”
Paris Saint-Germain have been heavily linked with a move for the player. It was reported earlier this week that his agent has held talks with the Ligue 1 giants.
However, Arsenal hold all the aces amid talk that they are set to treble his wages with their next contract offer.
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