Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta ignored William Saliba for ‘first week’
Arteta delights in Saliba's progress for Arsenal
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Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has admitted that he didn’t speak to William Saliba for a week when he arrived for the club’s pre-season tour. After a frustrating start to life in north London, Saliba’s future was uncertain in the summer, but he soon cemented his place in the Spaniard’s plans.
Arsenal splashed £27million to sign him as an 18-year-old from Saint-Etienne in 2019, where he returned on loan for the 2019/20 season.
Further loan switches to Nice and Marseille made Saliba wait for his Gunners debut, which eventually came three years after he arrived in the campaign’s curtain-raiser at Crystal Palace.
He has since started all 25 of Arsenal’s Premier League games as they challenge for their first title since 2004, prompting praise for Arteta’s treatment.
And the 40-year-old has revealed that rather than sitting down with Saliba before the pre-season tour of America, he allowed the Frenchman to let his football do the talking.
He told reporters: “The first question was how the player is going to reintegrate into our dynamic after being out for so long.
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“Is there some frustration there, something personal between, for example, between the player and me because he could not understand that?
“Or his environment, his expectations coming back or the amount that we paid for him, his age?
“Is it the same to do it in France as it is to do it in this league for Arsenal because you don’t have 21-year-old defenders at the top level in England?
“For the first week, I didn’t speak to him. I just wanted to see – naturally, without me really interfering in his thoughts – how he was.
“Because then you can understand the real him, and after that, I spoke to him.'”
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Saliba has missed just 14 minutes of Premier League football this season as one of the top flight’s standout defenders.
He was named the Ligue 1 Young Player of the Season last year, so Arteta will have been clear of the talent he possesses.
And he has managed him to perfection, with focus now zooming in on tieing Saliba down to a new contract at the Emirates Stadium.
According to football.london, the 21-year-old’s talks are progressing ahead of his 2024 expiry after Arsenal triggered a one-year extension clause in his current deal.
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