Ex-Arsenal defender Martin Keown has questioned his former club’s treatment of centre-back William Saliba. The Frenchman has yet to feature for the Gunners after returning from his loan spell at Saint-Etienne in the summer. It was thought he would be in contention for first-team games but manager Mikel Arteta reportedly feels he is not ready to play in the Premier League.
With a loan spell away from the Emirates now having been ruled out as well, Keown has been asking why the Gunners spent £27m on the 19-year-old if they are not going to play him:
“It’s bizarre. We’ve just not seen the kid. You want to see him to see how he performs say in the Championship to see if he’s good enough. I’m anxious to see. The feeling was that this was going to be the one. Gabriel has come in and been an outstanding signing. Maybe they feel he’s too young and want him to go out to pastures new. To then loan him out when there was a real problem there last season seems a real mystery.”
As Keown says, it is a strange situation. Saliba was brought in before the arrival of Arteta so that may partly explain his lack of involvement as the Spaniard wasn’t involved in the recruitment process.
However, that doesn’t offer an explanation as to why he hasn’t been allowed to leave on loan. A return to Saint-Etienne reportedly collapsed due to paperwork issues, but there’s no reason why he can’t join a Championship team until at least January so he can get some game time.