Mikel Arteta is looking forward to working with William Saliba, praising his attitude and mentality, but also urges patience in our expectations.
William Saliba is making a lot of headlines at the moment, unfortunately not for his work on the pitch. Arsenal and Saint-Etienne are locked in a dispute over whether he can feature in the Coupe de France final, and it’s not going well.
It’s all just adding to the pressure on the 19-year-old. Expectations are already high among the Arsenal fans, particularly with the current squad’s inconsistent defensive record this season. Now, Saliba has two clubs publicly arguing over him.
So whilst Mikel Arteta tells Sky Sports he’s looking forward to working with the talented young defender, he also attempts to quell the hype a little bit.
“I am excited to work with him but I am worried about the expectations because I know how difficult it is to play as a central defender in this country,” Arteta said. “It is one of the most complicated positions here. The step is really, really big.
“He is, in my opinion, in phase one or two of his development. He has a lot of things to learn. But hopefully, we can give him the right environment to make that process very quick.
“I know the player. He has the right mentality, the right attitude, the right physique. But he needs to fit in and that’s something nobody knows until the moment he lands in that dressing room.”
We all hope Saliba can hit the ground running with Arsenal and improve the defence. But there’s obviously a difference between that and expecting him to do so.
If Saliba takes a while to adapt, like Nicolas Pepe did this season and like so many have when transferring to England, the fans need to show patience with him. Otherwise, they’ll end up holding him back.