William Saliba finally delivering on Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal expectation

Arsenal’s on-loan centre-back William Saliba is delivering on the expectation Mikel Arteta had for him prior to his loan move to OGC Nice.

The young Frenchman was initially signed by the Gunners in 2019, but was loaned back to Saint-Etienne.

However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic cancelling the Ligue 1 season, he returned to the Emirates in the summer of 2020 having not played since the start of March.

As a result, Arteta decided to let him go back out on loaning January, this time to Nice, in order to get some game time.

The Gunners boss said at the time: “We signed a big project that we had some issues with because he hasn’t played enough football in the last eighteen months.

“At that age and in the development phase he is at that is crucial.”

Arsenal youngster William Saliba has been impressive for OGC Nice this season

Saliba has enjoyed a successful loan spell so far, having become a regular in the Nice first-team.

He recently became one of just three outfield players across Europe’s top five leagues to have played more than 900 minutes of league football this season without being successfully dribbled past by an opponent.

David Luiz, the man Saliba may well replace at Arsenal this summer, was also on the list, as was Barcelona’s Ronald Araujo.

William Saliba is one of three players to play 900 minutes without being dribbled past
William Saliba is one of three players to play 900 minutes without being dribbled past

Saliba is expected to return to Arsenal this summer and challenge for places, though he’s recently made life difficult for himself by putting distance between himself and Arteta.

The young Frenchman recently claimed the Gunners boss judged him on just two games before deciding he wasn’t ready for the Premier League.

“When I saw that the coach changed a lot changed for me too,” he said. “In this year there has been a lot of change.

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“He judged me on two-and-a-half matches. I would have liked for him to play me more. But he told me I wasn’t ready.

“I was waiting for him to give me a chance, but football is like that. When I initially came to Arsenal the league looked very good so I showed up to training and wanted to train on my own to show the coach I was ready.”

Arteta recently insisted he still keeps a watchful eye over all players out on loan – including Saliba – so it appears there’s still a chance for him to succeed in north London.

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