Arsenal defender William Saliba has only made two matchday squads since joining the squad for this season; Mikel Arteta added that a loan move in January could be a possibility; Gunners boss praises Mohamed Elneny for his impact since returning from a loan spell
Mikel Arteta has admitted he is “fed up” with William Saliba’s situation, with the defender still waiting to make his debut for Arsenal more than a year after signing.
Saliba arrived at the Emirates Stadium from Saint-Etienne for £27m in July 2019. He spent the 2019-20 season on loan back at the Ligue 1 club but made only 17 appearances in all competitions.
The 19-year-old was incorporated into the Gunners’ squad for this campaign but he has not spent a single minute on the pitch and has been left out of their Europa League squad.
Saint-Etienne accused Arsenal of reneging on an agreement to send Saliba back to France on Deadline Day – something the Premier League side denied – while prospective loans to Championship clubs also failed to materialise.
It has led to an underwhelming introduction to English football for Saliba, and Arteta appears to share the France U20 international’s frustration.
He said: “I’m fed up with the situation because, as you could see, we tried to find a way in the last few days to give him some football.
“I explained that he needed that transition year when we decided to buy him and send him on loan to Saint-Etienne. For many reasons, that didn’t happen – he didn’t have that transition year and he needs to go through that.
“At the moment, with the amount of central defenders we have in the team, we had to leave him out of the squad, which is painful. Now we have some injuries and we could have used him but this is part of the profession.”
Arteta added that a loan move in January could be a possibility for Saliba, saying: “We certainly tried in the last few days of the transfer window to find the right club but we could not.
“We will review the situation in the next few weeks and sit down with him and see what is the best thing to do. But it will depend on him and other players’ situations as well.”
‘Elneny responding to challenges’
One player who has been given opportunities to impress at Arsenal this season is Mohamed Elneny, who has returned to the squad after spending last season on loan at Besiktas.
The 28-year-old has featured in nine of the Gunners’ 12 games so far this season, including the entirety of their impressive 1-0 win against Manchester United at Old Trafford last Sunday.
Elneny’s performances have prompted talk of a new contract for the midfielder – who has less than two years remaining on his current deal – but Arteta is in no rush.
“He is responding very well to all the challenges that we are putting in front of him,” he said. “He had a big one when he came back from his loan spell to show what he could bring to the squad.
“I think everybody has seen what he can do, so I am very pleased with his performances and what he brings to the team.
“Let’s go step by step. What I can say is I am very pleased with the player and everything that he’s doing. Hopefully we can continue like that and perform really well through the season.”