Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta admits he snub William Saliba for a week after the young french star arrived back at Arsenal this summer.
Saliba had been sent out on loan three separate times after signing from St. Etienne in 2019,
and despite being named Ligue 1 young player of the year with Marseille last season, Mikel Arteta admits he still had some concerns that needed addressing in pre-season.
The Frenchman joined Arsenal in the summer of 2019 from Saint-Etienne for £28million.
“The first question was how the player is going to reintegrate into our dynamic after being out for so long.”
“Is there some frustration there, something personal between, for example, between me and the player 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?
“There were a lot of question marks and he went with all of them, ticking them off and giving us every reason to be confident that he was a great player for us.”
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“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.
“His attitude, the way he came in and said: ‘I’m going to prove that I’m very good and I deserve to be here.’
“Without any looking back or being shy, he was doing it the right way and giving the right reasons to think that he was going to be really good for us.
“He had an immediate impact. The first two training sessions that we looked at home we went: ‘There’s huge potential here’.
“He took out every question mark that we could have with him and gave us all the reasons to play him.
And I think he’s been exceptional since that day.”
“When he has made mistakes – with the crowd the first time he made a mistake that cost us a goal, the crowd reacted extremely positively towards him.”
“But he is naturally really composed. He doesn’t get too bothered about opinions or getting nervy in certain situations. That’s a big quality.”
As well as being popular among the fans, Saliba has also established himself as a favourite in the dressing room due to his personality.
“He’s really funny, and he doesn’t want to be funny.”
“He’s really liked around the place. He’s good, he has his aura and presence and always the humour and energy around him.
And then he is very focussed and determined to become a top player.”