Yesterday morning I think it was, when I read that Saliba had withdrawn from the French Olympic team, which I thought meant he could come back to Arsenal and get a good pre season and then who knows, probably get the chance to impress and maybe even play some football for us so Arteta could get a proper look at him.
Yet by the time I headed up to bed in the late hours of last night, the rumours across a number of different credible sources was that he would be joining up with the Marseille team on loan for the season.
Now, of course we don’t know whether or not this will happen because nothing has officially been announced, but I have to say that I’m rather disappointed here. On multiple fronts in fact.
Firstly, I’m disappointed that Arsenal spent £27million and signed a central defender who, at best, is not going to have played a competitive game for us for three years since he signed. It shows a terrible lack of strategic squad building capability and for a club who has always prided itself on its self sustaining model, it feels more akin to a team that spends billions on players, than one that has to watch the pennies at every turn. What we do have to say, however, is that the chief protagonist in this failure of duty – Raul Sanllehi – has long since departed and it shows just what a mess he made of things. So from a transfer and financial point of view then perhaps we can all acknowledge that this is less on the current team running Arsenal, Edu aside, who had only just joined when he arrived I think.
Secondly I am disappointed from a contractual point of view because I think that unless there is an announcement that Saliba has signed a new three year extension, it will put us in a difficult situation at the end of next season because he’s going to have just two years left on his deal. Imagine if in 22/23 he comes back, gets in our team, has a blinder? We’ll be back to normal with the usual Arsenal contract farce in which we’re all sweating on a player because he has just one year left on his deal.
Now, if we get an announcement of a new deal and we add another couple of years on top of the existing contractual length, then actually I’d probably be kind of ok with him going on loan. It would mean that next summer we get a 21-year-old who has further matured and could potentially be a future star for us. And given that Arsenal seem intent on trying to get extensions for players like Nelson and Nketiah done to protect their value, unless there is some kind of contract extension that is confirmed, it once again sends a message that the current administration isn’t thinking far enough ahead.
Or, more worryingly, that Saliba has no future anyway. But if that’s the case then why bother loaning? Why not just sell? Maybe they can’t find a buyer this summer so are loaning so they can sell next summer. Which brings me to my next thought, which is…
Thirdly, this smacks of “not my player” moves from Arteta, which I’m surprised and slightly frustrated with. There are loads of players in that team that aren’t his. There are players that ARE his and have failed miserably. So why not even take a look at this guy? Is there some sort of personal problem with him? If there is I’d be surprised, because you usually get to hear about this sort of stuff, not least from somebody in Saliba’s camp. Yet we get nothing. Arteta has professed to be wanting – and driving – a meritocracy at the club, but this smacks of anything but, which I find disappointing.
But I’m not laying everything at Arteta’s door, because fourthly and finally, I’m disappointed in Saliba too, if Marseille is his choice. Another loan in the French league won’t tell us much more than we didn’t already know. We were hearing that he rejected Rennes and wanted to fight for his place at Arsenal. We heard of a possible Premier League loan. Newcastle were mentioned. So why aren’t Arsenal looking to make a Premier League loan happen? If there are suitors then a move for a season in our league will give us much more information on his ability to cut it in English competition. Yet going to Marseille feels just like another year of his contract and career used, in which we’re no closer to knowing if he’ll make it at Arsenal. If, as appears the case, he has ‘chosen’ Marseille, it just says to me that he has taken the easy route and that feels a little poor in my opinion.
Right, I should probably leave it there for now. There’s a few Euro2020 games on this evening which are of interest so hopefully that can prove to be a welcome distraction. Well, until England fluff their lines against the Ukraine, no doubt.
Catch you wonderful humans tomorrow.