The Curious Case of William Saliba
William Saliba is a player that was lauded by Arsenal fans on his arrival two years ago for a reported £27 million from St. Etienne. A relatively unknown entity with a lot of potential waiting to be unearthed, the fans understood that he probably wasn’t going to compete with the much senior defenders in the side, so a loan move to his former club, St. Etienne, made sense at the time, and he featured regularly for the team, had his struggles with injuries, and with the COVID-19 pandemic complicating his loan terms, especially with the drama surrounding the Coupe de France final at the end of that campaign.
One assumed that last season would be the campaign we would finally get to see Saliba in action for the club, but after a couple of preseason games, it was evident that he wasn’t going to play a part in the campaign following a botched deadline day move as well as failing to register him in the competitions, so he spent the first half of the season doing nothing but training. I felt really sad about the situation because the Europa League would have been a good breeding ground for Saliba, and shockingly, he didn’t feature in the early rounds of the Carabao Cup as well.
January couldn’t come quickly enough for Saliba as he was shipped to OGC Nice and actually started, you know, playing some football, earning rave reviews even to the point were he was nominated for Ligue 1 Defender of the Season despite joining the outfit in January.
David Luiz finally leaves the club and we anticipated that the likes of Saliba will finally get the nod for the new campaign, but what does Arsenal do – try to delve in the market to sign Brighton’s Ben White for a reported £50 million, and according to recent reports, prepare another loan move for Saliba to Marseille this time.
For a player we spent 27 million quid on, we sure don’t rate him that much. Obviously, I’m not Mikel Arteta that watched him play in training, and in all honesty, I did not follow his progress in his loan spells at St. Etienne and most recently, Nice, but for the lad to be in contention for a Ligue 1 Defender of the Season spot, he must have had quite the campaign in the heart of Nice’s defense.
Arsenal has Rob Holding, Gabriel, Pablo Mari and Calum Chambers as their registered center backs for the season, and with Ben White’s imminent arrival, one can see why Saliba may not cut it again this season. However, I feel that there is an underlying issue between the player and his gaffer to the point where it seems that Arsenal has no plans for him at all, and its more annoying with the fact that he pulled out of the French Olympic Team in anticipation of participating in a full preseason with the club, only to be potentially shipped out again.
Well, he signed a five year deal with the club and it seems like we won’t have a real glimpse of him in the first three years of his career with us.
A real curious case.
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