Premier League • England

Ex-West Ham ace bemused by Arteta call on ‘future great’ Arsenal never play

Steve Pearson
Mikel Arteta, Arsenal

Former West Ham playmaker, Dimitri Payet, has revealed he simply can’t understand why Mikel Arteta continues to snub a talented Arsenal star.

Payet, 34, was borderline unplayable at times during a superb 2015/16 season with West Ham. His stint with the Hammers ended in acrimonious fashion when returning to former club Marseille in 2017.

Payet is still with the French powerhouse, and currently lines up in the same side as Arsenal loanee, William Saliba.

The Frenchman, 20, has been on Arsenal’s books since 2019. But despite being highly thought of in his home country, the centre-half is yet to make a single senior appearance for the Gunners.

Saliba was loaned out to Nice last January and produced a series of imposing performances. Clearly not in Arteta’s immediate plans following the signings of Ben White and Takehiro Tomiyasu, Saliba was again loaned out this summer to Marseille.

He has picked up where he left off last season, walking straight into Jorge Sampaoli’s starting eleven. And via Sport Witness, Sampaoli recently labelled Saliba as a “future great”.

Now, speaking to French outlet L’Equipe, Payet has weighed in on Saliba’s situation. In doing so, he revealed he simply can’t “understand why he hasn’t played more for Arsenal”.

Payet said: “The new ones have all brought something different. After that, I am closer to younger players.

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“So, the one that impresses me the most is “Willie” (William Saliba). Considering what he’s been doing since the start of the season, I don’t understand why he hasn’t played more for Arsenal.”

Arteta recently claimed Saliba continues to be loaned out in order to best aid his development. Judging by Saliba’s response, he agrees a spell away from Arsenal is in his best interests.

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Three names on Arsenal right-back shortlist

Meanwhile, Arsenal are reportedly looking at three players as they aim to replace a summer departure.

Despite their significant outlay this summer that totalled approximately £150m, Arsenal are already planning for 2022. Spanish outlet Fichajes (via Goal) report that the north London side want to land a new right-back.

They allowed Hector Bellerin to join Real Betis on loan in August. He has already suggested that the move could be made permanent. Japan international Tomiyasu has operated at right-back recently. However, he is generally viewed as a centre-half and is more defensive in his style.

Fichajes write that Leicester City’s James Justin is being monitored. The Luton-born full-back was in great form last season before his ACL rupture in February. 

A cheaper alternative is Tariq Lamptey of Brighton. The Englishman has impressed on the south coast since leaving Chelsea in January 2020.

The final name on the list is Norwich City’s Max Aarons. Should the Canaries be staring down the barrel of relegation once more, keeping Aarons at Carrow Road will become increasingly difficult.

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