Arsenal ‘following’ progress of rising star already informed of plan for 2022

Halil Dervisoglu battling with William Saliba

Arsenal have informed loanee William Saliba of their plans for him after his spell with Marseille, according to one high-profile reporter.

Saliba is currently in his third loan spell away from Arsenal, for whom he has never made a senior debut. The defender was a £27m investment in 2019, but the Gunners are yet to see any reward on the pitch.

The centre-back has since spent time back at former club Saint-Etienne and with other Ligue 1 outfits Nice and Marseille.

How Arsenal have managed him has sometimes raised eyebrows. There has even been a feeling that he may never want to return to north London, especially after his previous comments criticising how Mikel Arteta judged him.

But it has now been confirmed that he still has a place in their plans.

According to Fabrizio Romano, Arsenal still have faith in Saliba for the long term and are happy with how he has been progressing with Marseille.

Still only 20 years old, he has made seven starts in Ligue 1 and two in the Europa League so far this season, thus only missing one match in the French top flight.

Romano said on the Here We Go podcast: “Arsenal are following William Saliba’s performance with Marseille. They are very happy with him.

“The club told him several weeks ago that they were counting 100% on him for the future of Arsenal.”

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Saliba’s contract with Arsenal lasts until 2024. He thus has plenty of time to reintegrate if they really do have bigger plans for him.

Their other options in his position for the current season are Gabriel Magalhaes, Ben White, Rob Holding and Pablo Mari.

Saliba backed for breakthrough

Romano’s update follows comments from elite fitness coach Nicolas Saint-Maurice, who backed Saliba to be a success in the long run.

He told Football London: “He’s a very nice guy, very hard working.

“We worked on a number of things such as speed, power, you know he’s a big guy also and he’s strong. When you’re so young and you’re big and strong you aren’t as quick as the smaller guys. We worked a bit on that and he did really well.

“When I first saw him I thought of [Virgil] Van Dijk because of his positions of plays and he has the right potential to make it far.

“I know a lot of young players, I can see that some get distracted when they come to Dubai but he was working hard and he’s got the right environment.

“William is humble. Arsenal fans are annoyed right now because he’s not at the club and he’s doing really well in Marseille. But I think last season he missed some games on top of Covid.

“Saliba needs to play more and he will come good. He does not want to come to Arsenal and sit on the bench – that’s not his mentality. He wants to be playing for Arsenal. I think next season he will make a solid case for himself. ”

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