Mikel Arteta has admitted he is “fed up” that William Saliba has not been able to find regular football and says the defender could leave Arsenal on loan in January.
Saliba joined Arsenal from Saint-Ettiene in 2019 with one eye to the future. The defender spent last season back on loan at the club Arsenal had bought him from.
Saint-Ettiene were interested in taking Saliba again for a second season on loan. However, no agreement was found before the deadline.
There were some thoughts that Saliba could slot straight into the Arsenal first team upon his return, alongside fellow new recruit Gabriel Magalhaes. But that has not happened, and Saliba’s prospects of gametime this season look bleak.
The 19-year-old has not played for Arsenal in the Premier League this season, and is not even on their Europa League squad list.
That means he will be unable to play when Arsenal take on Molde on Thursday, even though Arteta is without several of his usual options at the back.
And the Arsenal manager admits that Saliba’s current predicament does not benefit anyone.
“I am fed up with the situation because as you could see we tried to find a way in the last few days [of the transfer window] to give him some football,” he said.
“I explained that he needed that transition year when we decided to buy him and send him on loan to Saint-Etienne, for many reasons that didn’t happen, he didn’t have that transition year and he needs to go through that.
“At the moment, with the amount of central defenders that we have in the team we had to leave him out of the squad which is painful because we have some injuries and we could have used him, but it’s part of this profession.”
Arteta open to Saliba loan in January
Fortunately for Saliba, there are only two months until the transfer window opens again in January – which should give him the chance to seek more playing time elsewhere.
Having spent £25m on him last summer, Arsenal still believe in him, so could look to loan him out.
Asked if that could happen in the winter transfer window, Arteta replied: “Yes.
“We certainly tried in the last few days of the transfer window to find the right club and we had it, but at the end of the day we could not make it.
“We will review his situation in the next few weeks, sit down with him as well and see what is the best thing to do. But it will depend on him and other players’ situations as well.”