Premier League • England

Arsenal warned upcoming transfer decision would leave thriving star as ‘only a back-up’

Mikael Silvestre has explained why an upcoming Arsenal transfer decision could result in William Saliba taking a backwards step in his career.

The French international signed for Mikel Arteta’a side in the summer of 2019 for £27m, but is yet made a senior appearance for the club. For the last two seasons, Saliba has been on loan in Ligue 1 to both St. Etienne and Marseille. He has excelled in France with his imposing displays resulting in his senior French debut in 2022.

However, former Gunner Silvestre still thinks the jump to Arsenal’s first team would be too soon if he is retained in north London next season.

“He is still young and I would be tempted to give him another year on loan so he can become even more consistent,” said Silvestre (via the Metro).

“He has improved on this loan, but there have been some games where he wasn’t at his best level.”

Saliba has been in and around Marseille’s starting eleven for the entirety of his loan spell and has amassed 39 appearances across all competitions.

According to WhoScored, Saliba has made an average 1.5 tackles per game. That compares favourably to Gunners starting centre-back Gabriel Magalhães. The Brazilian has made 1.4 tackles per game so far this year.

Saliba has helped Marseille to muster a total of 13 clean sheets during their Ligue 1 campaign this year. That puts them ahead of PSG (11) in that department.

Saliba’s contribution over the course of the season has been pivotal and according to WhoScored, he has an average rating of 6.91 throughout the campaign. Clearly, he is a man capable of handling the best Ligue 1 has to offer.

Saliba destined to be a back-up – Silvestre

Silvestre also gave his thoughts on Arsenal’s current centre-back partnership and how keeping Saliba would affect them.

“If you look at Gabriel and Ben White, I think that should be the partnership for next season,” continued Silvestre. “If Saliba comes in, he will be a back-up.”

The pair have formed a strong partnership this season and will be looking to carry their form into next season and beyond.

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

If Saliba was to sit rooted to the bench after two full seasons of consistent game-time, Silvestre thinks he would be making “a backwards step in his development.”

“To develop and to become a big part of Arsenal for the future, if you put him on the bench after playing a full season for Marseille, that would be a backwards step in his development,” concluded the Frenchman.

“They have to make a big decision on his future.”