Mikel Arteta shares what he told himself after watching William Saliba train for Arsenal
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has revealed what he thought about William Saliba after watching him train with the Gunners for the first time.
The Frenchman joined the North Londoners back in the summer of 2019, but it wasn’t until the opening game of this season that he made his competitive debut for the club.
There were a lot of question marks over Saliba‘s future in the summer, but Arteta knew he was going to be a star after watching him take part in two training sessions.
Mikel Arteta spotted William Saliba’s huge potential after two training sessions at Arsenal
There was a lot of frustration and anger among Arsenal fans over the last two seasons because Arteta simply refused to give Saliba a chance at the club.
The Spaniard was adamant that the young defender wasn’t ready for the Premier League. He was sent out on loan to Nice in the second half of the 2020/21 campaign, and then to Marseille for the whole of last season.
That definitely benefitted Saliba, who was one of the best players in Ligue 1 last season. He quickly showed his class at Arsenal in pre-season training as well, and Arteta was very impressed back then.
When asked if Saliba has surprised him this season, Arteta said, as relayed on Hayters TV: “I am, I was very surprised with the goal he scored that day especially (against Bournemouth).
“He had an immediate impact (in pre-season). The first two training sessions that we looked at him, we went: ‘There’s huge potential here’.
“The way he settled in, the way he started to get his role around the team, around his teammates, and the way he played in pre-season – he took every question mark that we could have with him out and has given us all the reasons to play him. I think he’s been exceptional since that day.”
Saliba has been magnificent for Arsenal this season.
It’s very rare to see a 21-year-old central defender come to the Premier League and become one of the best players in his position in the entire country.
That’s exactly what Saliba has done this season, and he’s definitely a contender to win the Young Player of the Year award at the end of this campaign.
Arsenal take on Bournemouth this afternoon and Saliba is expected to start.
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