Arsenal legend says reborn star has ‘really shocked me’, urging trio to ‘demand’ similar from Arteta

William Saliba, Granit Xhaka, August 2022

Nicolas Pepe, Nuno Tavares and Ainsley Maitland-Niles should not give up on their Arsenal careers, with William Saliba proof of a resurgence, David Seaman claims.

Centre-back Saliba signed for the Gunners in the summer of 2019 but has had to wait for his chance. Instead, he has gone on loan back to his home country France to build experience and confidence.

There were times when the 21-year-old looked to have no future under Mikel Arteta. Indeed, he failed to get a move away in summer 2020 and had to wait until January 2021 to do so.

But, Saliba has got his chance this season and has not looked back, playing a crucial Premier League role.

According to former Arsenal goalkeeper Seaman, three other Gunners stars should look to the Frenchman for inspiration.

Winger Pepe, full-back Tavares and versatile star Maitland-Niles all went on loan this summer to get minutes.

“Yes [they’ve got a future] because they should come back as better players because they’re playing more,” Seaman told the Daily Express.

“Now they’ve got a chance to play somewhere else. Just look at the Saliba situation and how it helped him.

“Someone like Pepe, who came in with a massive [£72million] price tag and didn’t get firing on all cylinders. You can see that there is a great player in there but Arsenal need him to be a bit more consistent.

“For the others it’s a chance of getting game time, more experience and more confidence. They should use the loan spells as a purpose for getting back to their main club with more power to demand that they get in the first team.”

Arsenal trio struggling for first-team role

Pepe arrived at Arsenal under Unai Emery’s management in 2019.

However, he has never maintained his best form and the arrival of Gabriel Jesus this summer pushed him further down the pecking order after Bukayo Saka’s emergence.

Arteta added Tavares as full-back cover, but fellow recent signings Oleksandr Zinchenko and Takehiro Tomiyasu are ahead of him, with Ben White recently playing at right-back to accommodate for Saliba.

As for Maitland-Niles, he has made 132 Arsenal appearances in a decent Gunners career after emerging from the academy but has not been fancied by Arteta.

Tavares has the longest Arsenal contract when he returns, his deal running out in 2025. Pepe’s terms run until 2024, while Maitland-Niles could become a free agent next summer.

Seaman added on resurgent centre-back Saliba that he feels “really shocked” by the player’s development.

“It’s incredible what he’s been doing,” the pundit added. “Saliba has really shocked me because it just shows you how going out on loan works.

“He’s been out on loan for a few seasons, got really good experience and when you watch him now, you think he must be about 27 because he looks so confident.”

Saliba looking to kick on

And the France international is looking to progress even further in what could end up as a fantastic breakthrough campaign.

He made his senior France debut in March and will surely stake a claim for a World Cup spot if he carries on.

That will depend on his Arsenal form and given his start to the campaign, he looks assured of his role in the team.

Saliba has played every minute in the Premier League this season, helping to keep Arsenal to just one defeat from seven games, with three clean sheets to boot.

And he has also chipped in with two goals and an assist, showing his value from set-pieces and in the air.

All in all, Saliba has waited so long for his Arsenal chance. He will want to continue his recent form and strive for a role in Qatar.