Report: Arsenal were genuinely worried £27m signing wasn't going to work, now Arteta says he's a 'top player'
Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Report: Arsenal were genuinely worried £27m signing wasn't going to work, now Arteta says he's a 'top player'

According to The Telegraph, Arsenal were genuinely worried that signing William Saliba was never going to work out.

Arsenal signed Saliba from Saint-Etienne in 2019 for £27m as one of the most highly-rated defenders in France.

However, three seasons of loan moves away from the Emirates meant there were plenty of doubts whether Saliba would ever play for Arsenal.

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The 21-year-old looks set to finally make his debut against Crystal Palace today, but it’s not been a straightforward route to the first team for the centre-back.

The Telegraph report that Saliba was due to join Newcastle on loan last season to gain some Premier League experience but ended up back in Ligue 1 with Marseille instead.

The move turned out to be a stroke of genius – but that was more luck than judgement – with Saliba impressing across 52 appearances and earning a call-up and subsequent debut to the French national team.

At the point he chose Marseille, both Arsenal and Saliba were apparently concerned that the deal wouldn’t work out.

But his form in Ligue 1 and over pre-season now seems to have earned him a place in Arsenal’s squad for the campaign ahead.

Arsenal worried Saliba signing wouldn’t work

The Telegraph report suggests that football fans in France couldn’t believe that Arsenal didn’t even include Saliba in their squad list two years ago.

Saliba had returned from a season-long loan at Saint-Etienne, but sat in Arsenal’s reserves for six months.

Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

It would have been easy for Saliba to demand a move away from Arsenal this summer after the way he was treated, but credit must go to Mikel Arteta for integrating him back into the squad so quickly this summer, and he now thinks he’s a ‘top player’.

Arsenal already have Ben White, Gabriel and Rob Holding as centre-back options, with Pablo Mari set to leave the club, but Saliba is more than capable of competing with all three of them to start in the Premier League.

However, his incredible rise in France last season made him impossible to ignore this season, and Arsenal would have regretted letting him, despite pundit Jamie O’Hara saying the club should let him go.

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