The Frenchman was signed in the summer of 2019 before being loaned back to St. Etienne for the season – nothing out of the ordinary, especially considering Laurent Koscielny was anticipated to stay at the Emirates for another year.
The strangeness, on the other hand, came the next summer. Saliba was left out of Mikel Arteta’s team for the 2020/21 season after missing much of his time back with Les Verts owing to injury and the early conclusion of that Ligue 1 season due to Covid-19. He was forced to play under-23s football before joining Nice for the second half of that season.
This year’s loan stay at Marseille means the 20-year-old has yet to make his competitive senior Gunners debut over three years after signing. However, this might be set to change very soon.
Arsenal intends to re-integrate Saliba into their squad this summer, according to SportEarly.
With Calum Chambers joining Aston Villa and Pablo Mari on loan at Udinese due to his present lack of first-team intentions, it appears that the Frenchman will be joining Arteta’s squad in North London.
This is unquestionably good news, given Saliba’s recent nomination for Marseille’s player of the month award for January. Regardless of his performance in Ligue 1, the 20-year-old will have to fight for regular playing time.
Ben White and Gabriel, the Emirates’ established first-choice central defense pairing, have contributed to 12 clean sheets this season.
Rob Holding, on the other hand, has received special appreciation from Arteta for his professionalism despite playing minimal minutes for much of the season.
“His mentality, his dedication to the squad, whether he plays every week or only one minute,” the Spaniard remarked. “For the rest, he’s a great influence.”
Takehiro Tomiyasu has had the starting right back berth pretty well fixed on since his summer transfer deadline arrival from Bologna.
White’s good form has been aided by the Japanese international’s defensive stability, while his two-footedness has been a key asset as the Gunners attempt to play out from the back and higher up the pitch.
Arsenal, on the other hand, has struggled at times without a direct tactical replacement for him.
Cedric has generally performed admirably when called upon, and he was particularly good in last week’s 1-0 triumph against Wolves; but, the Portuguese international is more of a conventional attacking full defender than Tomiyasu is.
This, on the other hand, may be difficult. Cedric, who was linked with Atletico Madrid in January, is now said to be solely focused on helping Arsenal qualify for the Champions League next season.
It’s unclear whether that will alter in the summer, but if the 30-year-old wants to continue in North London, adding another right back to play alongside him and Tomiyasu may not be possible.
Saliba, on the other hand, may be a viable option.
During his stint at Marseille, the Frenchman has played right back. When Jorge Sampaoli ordered him to play this role at the Stade Velodrome, his job was to give defensive cover and passing options in build-up play, similar to what Tomiyasu did for Arsenal.
After missing nearly a month of football owing to a calf injury sustained in last month’s Carabao Cup semi-final second leg defeat to Liverpool, the Japanese international is back in training and might be in contention for selection against Brentford on Saturday.
But, after seeing how his squad suffers without the Japanese international, Mikel Arteta may decide that bringing Saliba back will save him the hassle of having to go to the transfer market to get some.
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