Saliba has broken into the Arsenal first team, making his debut at Crystal Palace last week, but before that had spent three years out on loan.
The latest of those was at Marseille last season and the centre-back was linked with a permanent move to the French club during the current transfer window.
Arteta, however, has insisted Saliba always wanted to come back to Arsenal and has praised his impact since returning to Emirates Stadium.
“The reality is that he was very convinced and determined to come here,” said Arteta. “He had no other choice, 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.”
Saliba made an impressive debut for Arsenal against Palace, earning comparisons to England great Rio Ferdinand.
Arteta is wary that, given the Frenchman is still only 21 years old, mistakes will happen at some stage, but he is prepared to pay the price for that.
“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,” he said.
“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.
“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 think expectations and positive expectations are created when you see something special in a player and it’s obvious: they (the Arsenal fans) have 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.”