Mikel Arteta has been heavily criticised for his handling of William Saliba in recent times, however, his dealings with the defender have actually turned out to be successful.
Saliba has been sent out on loan twice since the Spaniard took over as Gunners boss which angered sections of supporters as they believed he was ready to be a first-team regular.
Arsenal’s decision to constantly loan out the Frenchman has proven to work, with the latest statistics reiterating that Arteta made the right call.
The defender has currently played more minutes than any other player aged 20 and under in Europe’s top five leagues.
Saliba joined the club in 2019 highly inexperienced, but he will be returning to the UK ahead of next season equipped with more maturity.
Saliba has played 3,330 minutes in 2021, which is over 500 minutes more than second place in the minutes used by players aged 20 and under during the current campaign.
Our very own Bukayo Saka is the player who falls below Saliba this season, having played just over 2,770 minutes.
The statistic of Saliba playing the most minutes is very telling and can only be looked at in a positive manner for the Gunners, as the defender is getting the opportunities to grow and develop.
He has been excellent since his loan switch to Marseille in the summer after Mikel Arteta decided he still needs to prove himself elsewhere.
Saliba has proven to be crucial for Jorge Sampaoli’s side and has started every Ligue 1 match since joining the club.
He has had some noticeable performances and none more so than his clean sheet against PSG, as he stopped arguably football’s most dangerous frontline in Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe from scoring.
The marvellous display earned him a spot in the starting XI of France’s best under-23 players, put together by French newspaper L’equipe.
Saliba’s height and athletic prowess mean he’s the perfect build for a defender looking to make waves in the English game, and with a senior call up to the French national team potentially on the cards, Arsenal must assure him that he has a future at the club.
The only concern surrounding him was the lack of experience, but having played more minutes than Saka in 2021, the main takeaway is that maturity has been added to Saliba’s game and he is now ready to break into Arteta’s side.
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Source by Football London