Arsenal have been warned not to place too much expectations on new signing William Saliba after being told the young defender has “plenty to work on” in his game.
The 18-year-old put pen to paper on a long-term deal with the Gunners last summer in a transfer that set the north London side back £27million, but one which ensured he spent the entirety of the 2019/20 season back on loan with St Etienne.
And with the player tipped for big things, then manager Unai Emery said at the time of his signing: “We’re delighted William is joining us. Many teams wanted him but he decided he wanted to come to us and be part of our future.
“He will stay in France next season for more experience and then we look forward to him joining our group.”
Saliba will arrive in London with a huge reputation and with the promise as one of French football’s brightest young prospects. Such has been the impact he’s been tipped to have, that a report earlier in the season stated that Real Madrid were keen to offer Arsenal an instant profit on the player without him having kicked a ball for them.
But while that bid was never forthcoming, some Arsenal fans questioned the club’s wisdom in allowing Saliba to see out the season in Ligue 1 given their defensive struggles this season, especially with the likes Sokratis and Shkodran Mustafi coming in for criticism and Jamie Carragher even labelling David Luiz a “disaster of a signing”.
However, Canal+ journalist Pierre Ménès has a warning in that regard, though, saying Saliba has plenty of work left to do before he becomes the top centre-half many are expecting he to become.
“Maybe he still lacks a little bit of experience. We saw that with the penalty he gave away in the semi-final of the French Cup.
“Maybe he lacks a bit of speed, but he’s very young. He can obviously improve a lot.
“In any case, he has good positioning, a good reading of the game and, obviously, a physique that helps him a lot.”