Inside William Saliba’s public Mikel Arteta disagreement that’s set him up for latest blow

William Saliba’s France career is yet to really get started, but he has experienced something similiar at the beginning of his time with Premier League  Arsenal

William Saliba knows what to do when it comes to reviving a career – whether that be for club or indeed country.

It took the French defender three years to make his competitive debut for Arsenal, getting his first run-out in the summer of 2022 despite signing his contract in 2019. In those three years, Saliba enjoyed three different loan spells, all amid a backdrop of uncertainty over his long-term future at the Emirates

The first came at the club Arsenal signed him from in St Etienne, which was expected. However, when he joined OGC Nice on loan mid-way through the 2020/21 campaign, it came as a shock to both Gunners fans and apparently Saliba himself according to his own previous public remarks, which cast doubt over his relationship with Arteta.

“The coach immediately told me that I was not ready,” he told French media. “I would have at least liked to have had a chance to rediscover my rhythm. But this is football, it’s like that.”

Saliba soon doubled down on those comments on RMC’s ‘Top of the Foot’, where he added: “It is clear that so much has changed in the last year. When I saw that the coach changed a lot changed for me too. In this year there has been a lot of change.

“He judged me on two-and-a-half matches. I would have liked for him to play me more. But he told me I wasn’t ready. I was waiting for him to give me a chance, but football is like that.

“When I initially came to Arsenal the league looked very good so I showed up to training and wanted to train on my own to show the coach I was ready. I am happy now, I want to play for Nice. The idea when you’re part of a team is a better feeling for me.”


William Saliba has been capped just 12 times by France

One more loan with Marseille followed, before Saliba was at long last given a chance to prove his worth in an Arsenal shirt. He’s barely looked back since.

Nowadays, the 23-year-old is viewed as one of the best centre-backs in the Premier League, but surprisingly is yet to win over France national team boss Didier Deschamps. Comments from Les Bleus manager suggest Saliba has his work cut out trying to make himself a starter in time for Euro 2024.

Speaking on Monday, Deschamps told reporters: “He is having a good season, but he also does things that I don’t like so much. For France, he has limited game time, but when he plays, that hasn’t necessarily gone well. The hierarchy doesn’t favour him at the moment, but he is here.

“Dayot Upamecano has had game time and perhaps William has had less. With certain players, I make sure to persevere, because it can be confidence or little blockages that can shift. Some don’t have any concerns, some need game time. William has had less game time, so that doesn’t allow him to be very calm.”

The comments will come as a shock to those who watch Saliba week in, week out for the Gunners. However, the centre-back has already shown that he is more than capable of changing a manager’s mind on him, just look at the revival of his relationship with Arteta

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