As a player signed at Arsenal for a huge sum of money, highly-rated French defender William Saliba is seen as one for the future. Despite the massive investment, the player was not involved with Arsenal in his first year, loaned out to Nice by the January window. It caused a lot of stress, and the player was quick to criticise the lack of a plan for him despite the huge investment made. His comments were seen as irksome at the Emirates, but understandable in the context of how quickly his big move soured.
This summer, a new deal was arranged to send the player to French giants Olympique Marseille. As such, the highly rated defender will return to France to play for one of their biggest clubs. However, he has admitted that he ‘ignored’ the advice of his parent club to sign for a team in England as opposed to returning to France’s Ligue 1. He was asked to take a loan with a Premier League club, but wanted instead to move back to France to play for OM.
What did William Saliba say about Arsenal?
When asked about what he decided to do for his own future, Saliba was quick to make clear that his exit was his choice and his alone. He told La Provence in France at his OM unveiling: “I had a chat with Pablo [Longoria], with the manager.
“I knew that’s where I was going to play this season, with a stadium on fire and fans who expect a lot. For a young 20-year-old player, it can only do me good. I’m the one who chose Marseille. Arsenal preferred that I go to England, but I knew that here was the right choice. I pushed and pushed for it.
“Marseille is one of the best clubs in France, with a lot of fervour in the city and the country. You need to sweat for the shirt when you’re here.”
Despite paying a whopping £27m for the youngster, Arsenal have given precious few chances to the player. He has barely made a game with the club since signing in the summer of 2019. He spent a year back on loan at Saint-Etienne, before arriving at Arsenal in the summer of 2020 only to find no real place for him within the Gunners squad.
Coach Mikel Arteta instead stuck with more experienced options, irking the youngster and forcing a loan move in the January 2021 window to move to Nice. Having enjoyed a fine spell of football in France, he now returns to the French game on loan with one of the biggest and most demanding teams in France.
With European football and a likely fuller Stade Velodrome to take part in, Saliba expects to make the most of his opportunity to play for OM. However, with the rebellion showed in rejecting the move Arsenal wanted, could the player be facing more of the same issues when he returns to North London in 2022?