William Saliba ‘WILL be welcomed back by Arsenal next season and integrated into the first team after impressing at Marseille’ – the £27m defender’s third loan spell since arriving in north London
- Arsenal bought William Saliba for £27m in 2019 but has not played for them
- The 20-year-old defender has spent three loan spells back in his native France
- Saliba saw his No 4 shirt stripped off him by Arsenal for £50m arrival Ben White
- Reports claim Saliba is set to be handed a first-team chance at Arsenal next term
William Saliba is set to be integrated into Arsenal’s first-team from next season after his loan at Marseille comes to an end, according to reports.
The French defender first moved to the Emirates Stadium in a £27million transfer back in the summer of 2019, but is yet to make a competitive outing for the Gunners having spent the past two years back on loan in France.
Questions were raised among Arsenal fans when the 20-year-old was put out on loan to a third different club earlier this year, with his Marseille move following stints at former club Saint-Etienne and Nice.
Arsenal plan to welcome back William Saliba to the first-team next season, according to reports
Saliba is currently out on loan at Marseille where he has impressed in nine games for OM
Saliba was also stripped of his No 4 shirt at Arsenal earlier this year following the £50m arrival of Ben White from Brighton but, according to Fabrizio Romano, the Gunners have been tracking the Frenchman all year and are satisfied with his progress.
The report also claims Arsenal will trust Saliba to become a first-team player from the start of next season, after playing a key role for Jorge Sampaoli’s Marseille this term.
The 20-year-old has featured nine times for OM since the start of the campaign, helping them to an unbeaten start in their first five matches of the season – but back-to-back losses leaves them ten points behind Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint-Germain.
Mikel Arteta (left) has not used Saliba (right) competitively and has sent him out on loan twice
Saliba has made frustration over a lack of game time at the Emirates Stadium very well known on social media. The defender complained to former Gunner Matteo Guendouzi on Instagram that he was ‘locked up’ in north London last season.
The defender was not used by Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta once last season as the Spaniard believed he was not prepared, before he was sent out on loan to Nice in the second half of the campaign.
Arteta has also overseen the arrival of two marquee signings at centre-back – White and Gabriel Magalhaes – since he took over at the Emirates Stadium in late 2019, while Pablo Mari has also been signed and used at Saliba’s expense.
This season, Arteta believes Saliba is closer to making a breakthrough at Arsenal but needs his loan spell at Marseille first.
Ben White (right) and Gabriel Magalhaes (left) are currently Arsenal’s top two centre halves
The Gunners boss said in pre-season: ‘I know that sometimes it’s difficult to explain or understand after the money that the club has spent trying to bring him in, to send him on loan.
‘But a lot of things have happened to him he’s a long-term player for us and we need to protect him as well. And giving him three or four games is not enough.
‘For him, he needs much more than that, because what happened in the last 18 months, he’s been through some personal problems as well that we have to try to help him and stay as close as possible to him.
‘And now he needs to play, play and play and enjoy his profession as well. And in order to do that I think we found the right club with him. He’s very happy to go there now. Hopefully he can enjoy his football and be ready for us for next season.’
Saliba is yet to feature competitively for the Gunners despite a £27million move in 2019
Both Arteta and Arsenal sporting director Edu Gaspar believe Saliba’s Marseille loan is useful
Arsenal sporting director Edu Gaspar added at the time: ‘Together with William, we have decided it will be good for his continued development to spend another season on loan.
‘William joined us as an 18-year-old, and he is still only 20, so he is still developing all the time. William is a player with strong natural ability and next season has the potential to be really beneficial for him at Marseille, a good club.
‘To play another season in Ligue 1 will be very important for his development. We will of course be keeping in close contact with William during the season and wish him all the best in France with Marseille.’