Arsenal legend Thierry Henry has expressed his disappointment at the way Mikel Arteta sent William Saliba out on loan before he was given a chance to prove his worth at the Emirates.
Saliba, 21, joined the Gunners in 2019 from Saint-Etienne with the expectation that he would break into the first-team over the next few seasons, but three years on and he is yet to play for Arsenal, despite already being capped twice at international level for world champions France.
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The 6ft 4in centre-back enjoyed a fruitful loan spell at Nice last term and was tipped to break into Arteta’s first-team this campaign, but he was once again sent packing, this time to Marseille, where he has been a pillar of consistency in the heart of Jorge Sampaoli’s backline.
Such has been the form of Saliba at the Stade Velodrome that Didier Deschamps has rewarded him with two senior caps for Les Bleus, while Marseille are on the cusp of finishing second in Ligue 1 — something they’ve only managed to achieve once in eight seasons — and in the Europa Conference League semi-finals.
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As such, Henry has now called into question Arteta’s man-management capabilities, believing the precocious defender has more than proven his quality across this season, and should have at least been given a chance to showcase that potential in north London.
“They didn’t even let him make a mistake,” Henry told Amazon Prime. “He left before an error.
“He didn’t even have the chance to compete for his place. What he is doing here is extraordinary. He was rewarded with a selection for the France team.
“Now he belongs to Arsenal, I don’t know where he will end up. We have seen that it was a little difficult for him to express himself on the subject.
“What I know is that he could have been in the Arsenal group. I am not Mikel Arteta, but I found it difficult for him. Anyway, he responded well and that’s the most important thing.”