Friday, March 3, 2023

Arsenal boss Arteta details Saliba management: I didn't speak to him for a week

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has revealed how he approached William Saliba in preseason.

The Frenchman had been sent out on loan three separate times after signing from St. Etienne in 2019, and despite being named Ligue 1 young player of the year with Marseille last season, Arteta admits he still had some concerns that needed addressing in pre-season.

“The first question was how the player is going to reintegrate into our dynamic after being out for so long,” the Spaniard told the press ahead of Arsenal’s Premier League clash with Bournemouth this weekend.

“Is there some frustration there, something personal between, for example, between me and the player because he could not understand that? Or his environment, his expectations coming back or the amount that we paid for him, his age? Is it the same to do it in France as it is to do it in this league for Arsenal because you don’t have 21-year-old defenders at the top level in England?”

Instead of engaging the 21-year-old in conversation to answer some of his questions, Arteta chose to allow Saliba the chance to let his football do the talking.

“For the first week I didn’t speak to him,” Arteta admitted. “I just wanted to see – naturally, without me really interfering in his thoughts – how he was. Because then you can understand the real him and after that I spoke to him.'”

Since then Saliba has gone on to become a regular in Arteta’s side, starting every single one of the Gunners’ Premier League matches this season.

“When he has made mistakes – with the crowd the first time he made a mistake that cost us a goal, the crowd reacted extremely positively towards him,” the Spaniard said. “But he is naturally really composed. He doesn’t get too bothered about opinions or getting nervy in certain situations. That’s a big quality.”

As well as being popular among the fans, Saliba has also established himself as a favourite in the dressing room due to his personality.

“He’s really funny, and he doesn’t want to be funny,” Arteta said of how the Frenchman is off the pitch. “He’s really liked around the place. He’s good, he has his aura and presence and always the humour and energy around him. And then he is very focussed and determined to become a top player.”

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