William Saliba Omission Asks Questions of Mikel Arteta

Arsenal, Mikel Arteta (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)
Arsenal, Mikel Arteta (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images) /

Where is William Saliba?

Opinion on William Saliba has shifted in various directions over the course of one year. From the best young centre-back in Europe, to the saviour of Arsenal Football Club, to perhaps not quite ready, to maybe in domestic cups, to a loan elsewhere, to mere squad player.

All in 12 months. And, the latter few points have taken place in just a few weeks’ time. From the 45-minute cameo against MK Dons where he came across and dependable and resolute, he’s now training at London Colney, not getting a sniff in Carabao Cup matches – and won’t now the Gunners are in the latter stages – leaving only the Europa League realistically remaining.

Except he won’t be in that either.

Indeed, the squads were made and Saliba’s name was not included. It’s remarkable. Mad, really, to think that of all the occasions where he can get a chance to embed himself in the first team, home matches against Dundalk are apparently not them. No disrespect to Dundalk, but Premier League sides will pose greater threats.

Arteta evidently has a keen eye on the competition and won’t take it lightly, but the decision to omit Saliba having not sent him out on loan for at least six months is an unavoidable point. Rumours are that he’ll be included for the updated league squad, but if he won’t get minutes in the Europa League, is he realistically going to get them in the top-flight?

This may be one the first real criticisms that Arteta has faced. When the FA Cup eventually comes around for Arsenal, will that be his saving grace? 90 minutes against Forest Green Rovers?

However, we don’t see what Arteta sees.

It could be the case that Saliba so far off the required level that any football in Europe could derail whatever progress he’s already made. Should that be the situation, then his hands are admittedly tied.

But there was interest in a loan. How much influence he had in the efforts to send him away temporarily isn’t known, but omission from the Europa League squad only to then stay put doesn’t add up.

As you’ll have noticed, I’ve avoided mentioning Saliba’s price. Instead, this situation should be viewed ias a new player needing minutes to develop. Under-23 football is not going to cut it. If anything, it’s slowing him down.

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