Arsenal journalist Charles Watts has given his view on the future of the club’s defender William Saliba.
The French defender, valued at £15.3m by Transfermarkt, has been out on loan at Ligue 1 side Nice for the second half of the season, with the 20-year-old reportedly feeling ‘hurt’ over the way that he was treated.
With David Luiz set to depart this summer, it does leave an opportunity for a new centre-back to enter the fold, and speaking on Saliba’s future, Arteta gave this response when speaking in his press conference ahead of their game with Crystal Palace:
“He’s our player so he’ll be back here for sure. After that, we will make a decision based on an agreement of the role each player is going to have in our squad.”
An answer that Watts, speaking on the latest edition of his show (6:12), didn’t find all that convincing that the defender still has a future at the club:
“It certainly didn’t feel like he was absolutely backing William Saliba to be David Luiz’s replacement. You didn’t get the sense that he was definitely going to be the man who was going to sort of step up and play a lot of games next season…
“So it’s kind of like ‘Yeah, he will probably stay or stay around if he accepts he’s going to be a squad player. Maybe get the odd game here or there’. That’s kind of what I got from that. Certainly didn’t fill me with confidence Saliba is in his plans to be an absolute first-team regular next season.
“Again, we’ll have to wait and see how things pan out in the summer. He’s done well over in France, no doubt about that.”
Should William Saliba be sent out on loan for another season?
TIF Thoughts on Charles Watts’ comments about William Saliba at Arsenal
Given that Arsenal aren’t being tipped to spend a lot of money this summer, there probably aren’t a lot of players out there that the Gunners will be able to bring in with much quality to help them progress, so they might have to make do with what they have in a lot of areas such as centre-back.
So because of that, Saliba probably does have a future at the club, but it’s just going to be a case of whether it’s as a first-choice player or as a squad player. And if he can bring his form from France over that Watts mentions, then it might just end up being the former.