Lokonga says he's surprised that Arsenal loaned out William Saliba before giving him a chance
Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Lokonga says he's surprised that Arsenal loaned out William Saliba before giving him a chance

Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Arsenal midfielder Albert Sami Lokonga has heaped praise on William Saliba and claimed he was surprised that the Gunners loaned him out before giving him a chance.

Unai Emery signed Saliba from French side Saint-Etienne in 2019. He was immediately loaned back to his boyhood club, but everybody expected him to become a regular at Arsenal when he returned.

However, when Saliba did come back, Emery was gone. Mikel Arteta was at the helm, and the Arsenal boss just wasn’t convinced about the young French defender. He loaned him out two more times, much to the anger of Gunners supporters.

Saliba returned for pre-season this summer, and he has impressed everyone, including Lokonga, who can’t believe that his club loaned out a player as good as him.

Lokonga surprised that Arsenal loaned out William Saliba

The Belgian midfielder sat down for a chat on the Counter Attack Podcast this week and discussed Saliba’s impressive performances since his return from Marseille.

Lokonga said: “‘I didn’t know he was so good because I didn’t see him play before [he left].

“When I saw him for the first time I said, ‘wow, he is really, really good’.

“So I was surprised Arsenal that let him go on loan and he didn’t play.”

Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

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Arsenal fans have been desperate to see Saliba in action in the famous red and white.

He was always a sensational talent, but the Premier League is never easy for a foreign player to come in and hit the ground running. Arteta was very cautious of that, and he believed sending the 21-year-old on loan was the best option.

Since his return this summer, Saliba has been sensational. His spells away at Nice and Marseille really have helped him develop into a quality player, and he now looks ready for the Premier League.

Arsenal take on Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park this evening, and if reports are to be believed, Saliba will make his Premier League debut.

Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images
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