Is there anything we don’t know about the William Saliba affaire?
It was only a few days ago that Arsenal were reportedly interested in Brighton and England international Ben White, whom the Seagulls value at £40 million.
The former Leeds player, who has seen his value double in the space of just one season in the Premier League, is known for his ability to play out of the back, a quality that we need badly, given the release of David Luiz and the obvious difficulties shown by both Rob Holding and Dinos Mavropanos.
In itself, the purchase of Ben White would be an excellent thing if it weren’t for two details: the investment it requires and, above all, the fact that we already have William Saliba in the squad, returning from his loan at Nice.
Once again, the name of the young transalpine defender is brought up in the context of a parallel transfer story, which would see the arrival of a direct rival; the more we talk about William Saliba outside the pitch, the more doubts emerge about his signing…
Buying a player for a sum as substantial as the one we paid Saint-Étienne (£28 million) and immediately loaning him out is already quite strange, but the fact of having left him out even the following season – the one that has just ended – borders on the absurd: what club invests so much in a player, whatever his role, and decides to deprive him for two whole seasons?
I can understand that the first loan, the immediate one to Saint-Étienne, was perhaps an obligation to get ahead of the competition and close the deal, I struggle more to understand why he was left out of both the Premier League and Europa League teams, especially when Mikel Arteta registered Shkodran Mustafi – blatantly waiting to be released – and chose Pablo Marí over him, who was injured at the time.
Furthermore, instead of moving early and guaranteeing William Saliba a full season on loan somewhere else, the Frenchman had to wait until winter before settling in at Nice and had to ‘put up with’ a few games with the U23 team, a level he is definitely not suited to.
Perhaps there’s too much talk about William Saliba, given that we’re yet to see him playing for the Arsenal, but when a Club invests that amount of money, you expect a different treatment, you expect him to be fully involved with the first team.
Perhaps considering him an automatic starter was a stretch but to see him left out altogether was a shock.
Either he isn’t the unbelievable prospect we were made to think he was and we overpaid for his signature – or there is something that we don’t know about him, Mikel Arteta and the Club.
I struggle to believe that some many pundits and experts were all parts of a crazy consipracy to make us pay over the odds for William Saliba, so I guess something or someone isn’t being fully transparent in this story.
The more I think about the situation surrounding William Saliba, the more I tell myself that we don’t know all the details and higher are the odds that the price we paid to secure the signature of the promising French defender was extorted from us, somehow.
We know how Raúl Sanllehí conducted the negotiations that led to the signings of Lucas Torreira from Sampdoria, for whom we paid more than his release clause stated, and Nicolas Pépé, for whom we clearly overpaid to Lille, so William Saliba could be the third purchase of the Catalan director that was finalised in a non-transparent way.
If Arsenal could afford to spend over forty million on a player like Ben White, I would be excited to see how ambitious we are. Unfortunately, the reality is different and the Club has to make do with a tight budget and should first and foremost think about strengthening the midfield, the area that needs a total rebuild more.
With Granit Xhaka due to leave, Dani Ceballos and Martin Ødegaard back in Madrid and Mohamed Elneny’s contract due to expire next summer, we are so short of options in midfield that the very idea of investing so much money in buying another defender seems like pure lunacy.
There’s something we don’t know, whether it’s about William Saliba or the Club’s financial situation.
Thirty-something Italian, currently in Switzerland. Gooner since mid-ninties, when the Gunners defeated my hometown team, in Copenhagen. Twelve years ago I started my own blog (www.clockenditalia.com) after after some experiences with Italian websites and football magazines. Debate, don’t insult or you’re out.