Saliba’s Arsenal stint has of course proven somewhat bizarre to this point.
The now-19-year-old was purchased from Saint-Etienne in the summer of 2019, before being immediately loaned back to the Ligue 1 outfit, to gain further first-team experience.
The general assumption, in turn, was that Saliba would return to the Emirates this year, ahead of playing a central role in Mikel Arteta’s first-team setup – the Gunners did, after all, splash out a reported £27 million on the youngster.
And Saliba has, as expected, since returned to north London.
However, surprisingly, he is yet to secure any sort of consistent game-time. In fact, the Frenchman has not been afforded a single appearance for Arsenal’s first-team to this point.
Instead, Saliba has been restricted to outings with the club’s youth sides, having surprisingly been completely omitted from Mikel Arteta’s Europa League group stage squad.
‘Open to permanent & loan departure’
Arteta, in turn, has since expressed his regret at Saliba’s European omission, admitting that it ‘hurt’ him to leave the youngster out:
‘I feel really bad for William Saliba. Because we had so many central defenders, we decided to leave him out of the squad which was really hurtful for me to do.’
If the latest word stemming from the French media this weekend is to be believed, however, then the attempts of his manager to smooth over the situation do not appear to have had much impact in easing Saliba’s disappointment.
This comes amid claims that the stopper is now open to not only a January loan, but also a permanent departure from the Emirates this month.
As per a report from Get French Football News, a meeting between Arsenal and Saliba took place last week.
During the discussions, the teenage talent is said to have made his feelings clear, by confirming that he is ready to move on, without ever having taken to the pitch for the Gunners’ first-team.
Significantly, it is suggested that Arsenal agreed with such a stance, hinting at a hitherto unconfirmed problem behind the scenes in north London.
A meeting between Arsenal & William Saliba last week saw both parties agree to be open to accepting both permanent & loan departure opportunities this month, according to L’Équipe.
— Get French Football News (@GFFN) January 1, 2021
This article was edited by Josh Barker.
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