William Saliba is not being punished by Arsenal, insists former defender

Paul Macdonald
William Saliba is not being punished by Arsenal, insists former defender

Former Arsenal defender Bacary Sagna insists Mikel Arteta is not punishing William Saliba by sending him out on loan this season, and still backs him to succeed at the Emirates.

Saliba, made the £27 million switch to North London in the summer of 2019 but is yet to make his Premier League debut. He has spent time on loan in France, both back at his former club Saint Etienne and at Nice this season.

There had been some suggestions that Saliba was expected to make his breakthrough at Arsenal this year, but Arteta has decided to hold him back a further season after failing to impress.

But Sagna insists that is not a reflection on Saliba himself, claiming it to be an example of good leadership on Arteta’s part. He does state that the youngster needs to show more aggression in his play and take more responsibility.

“I’m watching games and maybe he needs to be a bit more aggressive,” the 38-year-old told Goal.

“Be a leader, especially in his position. I don’t know if he speaks English. This could be a problem when you come to a new country, but you need to adapt fast, you don’t have time.

“Time is a luxury you don’t have when you come to a club like Arsenal because you have to play straight away.

“To adapt it takes months and Mikel probably saw a problem and thought ‘you need to be more aggressive, you need go out somewhere and play’.

“Then when he comes back, he will have the mentality needed for the Premier League.”

Arsenal are hoping to end the season strongly, but Arteta knows his best chance of Champions League qualification comes via the Europa League.

How is Saliba performing on loan?

Saliba is earning positive reviews for his performances on loan at Nice.

FootballTransfers recently completed a rundown and evaluation of how all of Arsenal’s loanees are performing this campaign.