Arsenal gaffer Mikel Arteta is poised to make a surprise U-turn on the future of central defender William Saliba, according to a report.
Arteta has gone on record as saying he thinks the 19-year-old centre-back needs another year to mature.
Saliba was on loan with St Etienne last season, but his time was hindered through injury.
He returned to The Emirates in the summer and was expected to be drafted into Arteta’s first-team squad. Arteta though soon put that idea to bed.
“He had year last where Arsenal essentially loaned him to Saint-Etienne and that was a transition year for him,” said Arteta earlier this month.
“For many reasons, that wasn’t the transition year that he needed because he had a lot of injuries. He had some personal issues and obviously with COVID and the French league getting cancelled, he didn’t have that year. So he needs that year of transition.
“He needs that year of transition and we are trying to make the right decisions for him to make the best possible year of transition for him to have the player we want for our future.”
The defender saw a deadline-day loan move back to former club Saint-Etienne fall through and the PA news agency claimed he could yet spend the season in the second tier.
The Telegraph also claimed that Fulham were the most likely side to benefit from his availability, but they could not get a loan deal done.
But now Arteta looks set to keep the player and allow him to develop at London Colney.
The Athletic report the Frenchman will stay at the Emirates until January at least, despite interest from Fulham and Brentford.
Saliba has been left out of Arsenal’s Europa League squad, but he could be in Arteta’s Premier League squad, which will be announced on October 20.
Arteta now plans to Get Saliba training with the first-team squad and see how he develops.
ESPN claim that the Arsenal manager wants him to improve on defending set-pieces and decision-making on the pitch.
It’s not the first time that Arteta has changed his mind in recent months.
Wolves sold Matt Doherty to Spurs in the summer, after they were reportedly told Ainsley Maitland-Niles was available.
An opening offer was made – albeit also rejected – though Wolves retained high hopes of eventually securing the deal.
The transfers of Doherty and Maitland-Niles seemed to be intertwined after a report revealed one would be a determining factor in the other.
However, Maitland-Niles’ then displayed impressive form since the restart. He won man of the match in their Community Shield victory over Liverpool.
As a result, Arsenal reversed course on their plans to allow the 23-year-old to leave.
Sky Sports stated that ‘Wolves’ pursuit was at an end as they believed Arsenal wanted to keep him at the Emirates.
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