Arsenal manager Mikel has been told the faith he has in William Saliba is misguided – and the Frenchman should be one of five players the Gunners look to sell this summer.
The 21-year-old defender is finally poised to kick his first competitive ball for Arsenal this weekend. After signing in July 2019, he has been sent on various loan deals as the Gunners tried to further his development. And the most recent of those spells – at Marseille – proved highly successful for all concerned.
Indeed, Saliba was named in the Ligue 1 Team of the Season. His form has also seen him earn five caps for a highly-competitive France national side.
Finally back at Arsenal, the centre-half looks finally ready to make his Gunners debut. And if all goes as expected, he will line up at the heart of Arteta’s defence when the new season kicks off at Crystal Palace on Friday night.
Arteta may opt to start Saliba as part of a three-man backline. If not, he will likely take his place alongside Gabriel Magalhaes, with Ben White potentially missing out.
As such, big things are expected of Saliba with many fans excited to see what he can do. To that end, the player feels, for all intents and purposes, like a new signing for Arsenal.
Their gain is very much Marseille’s loss, with the Ligue 1 side making perfectly clear their desire to re-sign Saliba again.
However, the young defender seems very much a part of Arteta’s plans this season and all eyes will be on him at Selhurst Park.
That said, former Tottenham man Jamie O’Hara is not convinced by the defender at all.
And he feels the £27m signing should be sold by the Gunners this summer while his stock is still high.
Jamie O’Hara explains why William Saliba is not good enough
“Who?” O’Hara replied when asked by talkSPORT Edge if Arsenal should keep or sell Saliba.
“I mean you’re asking me about players, I have no interest in Arsenal whatsoever. If you have loaned him out and he has been there three seasons, you’ve loaned him out twice [then] he obviously ain’t good enough. Get rid of him.”
O’Hara also names Granit Xhaka, Hector Bellerin, Mohamed Elneny and Nicolas Pepe as other players Arsenal should sell.
Assessing their qualities, or lack of, O’Hara explained his thinking.
“I would say sell [Pepe], get rid, I mean it was kind of a shocking signing really. £75million but paid over five years? Ridiculous. If they can get money back for him then get rid of him because I don’t think he is good enough to play in this [Mikel] Arteta team.”
O’Hara next turned his vitriol to much-maligned former captain Xhaka.
“Get rid [of Xhaka]. You have got to sell him, he lets you down in big games and I think Arsenal are going to be right amongst it this season with the players they have signed. I think it’s time, get rid of him.”
On Bellerin, who could terminate his deal to secure a move to Real Betis, O’Hara says he can’t see a way back into the Arsenal side for him.
“Get rid [of Bellerin],” O’Hara said. “I mean does he even play anymore? Get rid of him, I mean he was decent five years ago, loads of talent but Arsenal have moved on.”
Per Mertesacker convinced by Saliba qualities
One man who is convinced by Saliba’s qualities, however, is Per Mertesacker.
The Arsenal academy manager has had little chance to influence Saliba’s game since he signed for Arsenal. However, he has kept a close watch on the player after watching him bloom in southern France.
“What William has done in Marseille is magnificent,” Mertesacker told Hayters TV.
“So for us to really test him this summer and see what’s best for him. But he has clearly made his mark with his young age, with his playing in a major league in Europe and been one of the best players in Europe. So why not use him?”
William Saliba wants to fight for his place at Arsenal
William Saliba wants his Arsenal return and is ready to fight for his place in the Arsenal back four
All things considered, William Saliba absolutely deserves his chance now. His exploits for Marseille underlined his quality and you don’t get into the les Bleus side if you’re a bad player.
As such, the defender will be expected to have a big impact at Arsenal and all eyes will be on him as he looks to get the better of Palace’s attack in Friday’s London derby.