‘Not thinking about returning’: William Saliba speaks out over Arsenal future & struggles in north London

 

On-loan Arsenal defender William Saliba has, on Friday, spoken out over both his future, and prior struggles in the English capital.

Saliba starring

Gifted stopper Saliba is of course currently in the midst of his third successive loan spell away from the Emirates.

Despite having been signed in the summer of 2019 amid widespread fanfare, the 20-year-old is yet to convince those in a position of power at his parent club of his readiness to feature on a consistent basis in the Premier League.

In turn, after returning from an altogether impressive spell with OGC Nice over the 2nd half of last season, it was decided during the summer that yet another move back to his home country would benefit Saliba best over the campaign ahead.

The Frenchman linked up with Ligue 1 heavyweights Olympique Marseille, and has since not looked back.

Saliba has been widely lauded for his efforts at the heart of OM’s backline over the early months of the term, displaying a complete repertoire of ability in the tackle, explosive athleticism and composure in possession.

All told, he has been afforded starts in all but one of the club’s league fixtures, helping Marseille to a spot in 2nd-place in the Ligue 1 table as things stand.

‘Not thinking about returning’: William Saliba speaks out over Arsenal future & struggles in north London

NICE, FRANCE – AUGUST 22: William Saliba of Marseille during the Ligue 1 match between OGC Nice (OGCN) and Olympique de Marseille (OM) at Allianz Riviera Stadium on August 22, 2021 in Nice, France. (Photo by John Berry/Getty Images)

‘Don’t think about it…’

Amid his starring stint in the south of France, however, speculation, of course, has continued to swirl surrounding just what may be next for Saliba.

Despite Mikel Arteta having hinted at a place in his plans for the defender late in October, the stellar partnership being fostered by Ben White and Gabriel Magalhaes means that regular game-time could well prove difficult to come by at Arsenal once again in 2022/23.

In turn, speaking during an interview with Eurosport on Friday, Saliba was inevitably drawn on his future in north London.

The 20-year-old, however, was keen to shift attention away from what lies in store beyond next summer, and back towards the task at hand with Marseille:

‘I’m on loan. But I pretend I’m there for many years. I’m not thinking about returning to Arsenal [right now]. I give myself to Marseille. I don’t think about what will happen afterwards.’

‘Not thinking about returning’: William Saliba speaks out over Arsenal future & struggles in north London

Nice’s French defender William Saliba (L) is challenged by Metz’s French forward Thierry Ambrose during the French L1 football match between Football Club de Metz and OGC Nice at the Saint-Symphorien Stadium in Longeville-Les-Metz, eastern France on January 9, 2021. (Photo by JEAN-CHRISTOPHE VERHAEGEN / AFP) (Photo by JEAN-CHRISTOPHE VERHAEGEN/AFP via Getty Images)

Saliba also went on to provide an insight into the difficulties faced upon his initial arrival at Arsenal, labelling his time in the Gunners’ youth setup as a timely reminder that, despite the clamour surrounding his name, the Frenchman remained a ‘nobody’ in the grand scheme of things:

‘There are hard times. I hadn’t played a game for six months.’

‘You have to fight in a career. We must take that as a lesson to go further. It gave me a little slap to say: ‘You are nobody!’ You can be bought for 30 million euros, arrive in a club and we put you aside.’

‘I took this experience by being positive. I feed on it. I know what it’s like not to play for six months. Today, I want to play every game.’

‘It is not a direct message. But since I didn’t play for six months, that I had a hard time, I wanted to show that I had the capacity to play at this club. I do it for myself first. It’s not revenge.’

 

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Premier League table

# Team MP D P
1 Manchester City 17 31 41
2 Liverpool FC 17 35 40
3 Chelsea FC 17 27 37
4 Arsenal FC 17 1 29
5 West Ham United 17 7 28
6 Manchester United 16 2 27
7 Tottenham Hotspur 14 -1 25
8 Wolverhampton Wanderers 17 -1 24
9 Leicester City 16 0 22
10 Aston Villa 17 -2 22
11 Crystal Palace 17 0 20
12 Brentford FC 16 -1 20
13 Brighton & Hove Albion 16 -3 20
14 Everton FC 17 -8 19
15 Southampton FC 17 -10 17
16 Leeds United 17 -15 16
17 Watford FC 16 -10 13
18 Burnley FC 15 -7 11
19 Newcastle United 17 -19 10
20 Norwich City 17 -26 10
Player Team Goals
Salah, Mohamed Liverpool FC 15
Vardy, Jamie Leicester City 9
Jota, Diogo Liverpool FC 9
Dennis, Emmanuel Watford FC 7
Mount, Mason Chelsea FC 7
Ronaldo, Cristiano Manchester United 7
Mane, Sadio Liverpool FC 7
Silva, Bernardo Manchester City 7
Raphinha Leeds United 7
Antonio, Michail West Ham United 6
Gallagher, Conor Crystal Palace 6
Son, Heung Min Tottenham Hotspur 6
Smith-Rowe, Emile Arsenal FC 6
Wilson, Callum Newcastle United 6
Maupay, Neal Brighton & Hove Albion 6
Fernandes, Bruno Manchester United 5
King, Joshua Watford FC 5
Gray, Demarai Everton FC 5
Zaha, Wilfried Crystal Palace 5
Watkins, Ollie Aston Villa 5



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