‘I feel really bad’ – Arteta hints at regret over decision to omit William Saliba from Arsenal’s EL squad


Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has hinted that he has been left to regret the decision to leave William Saliba out of his side’s Europa League group stage panel.

Gunners spell

Saliba’s Arsenal stint has of course proven somewhat bizarre to this point.

The now-19-year-old was purchased from Saint-Etienne last summer, before being immediately loaned back to the Ligue 1 outfit, to gain further first-team experience.

The general assumption, in turn, was that Saliba would return to the Emirates this summer, ahead of playing a central role in Mikel Arteta’s first-team setup – the Gunners did, after all, splash out a reported £27 million on the youngster.

Saliba has, as expected, since returned to north London.

However, he is yet to secure any sort of consistent game-time. In fact, the Frenchman has not been afforded a single appearance for Arsenal’s first-team.

Instead, Saliba has been restricted to outings with the club’s U23s.

The gifted stopper’s exclusion from Arsenal’s Europa League squad, meanwhile, only saw questions mount further, especially when taking into account the fact that another loan move away from the Emirates, despite interest, was not sanctioned over the final weeks of the transfer window.

GDYNIA, POLAND – MAY 31: William Saliba of France reacts as he is substituted with an injury during the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup group E match between Mali and France at Gdynia Stadium on May 31, 2019 in Gdynia, Poland. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

‘Really hurtful’

And, as outlined above, one individual who evidently regrets the call to omit Saliba from European contention for the months ahead is none other than the man made the decision itself – Mikel Arteta.

Speaking ahead of his side’s Europa League meeting with Irish outfit Dundalk on Thursday, the Arsenal boss was drawn on the fact that his young stopper will not be in contention to participate, despite David Luiz having added to the central-defensive injury crisis facing the Gunners last weekend.

And Arteta went on to admit that he feels ‘bad’ for Saliba, who is ‘fit and available to play’:

‘I feel really bad for William Saliba. Because we had so many central defenders, we decided to leave him out of the squad which was really hurtful for me to do.’

‘I was hoping that Pablo would be back in two weeks but he had a setback and then we don’t have Pablo and we don’t have William when he’s fit and available to play.’

Arteta concluded:

‘But when you make those decisions, you can’t always think about every possible outcome.’

Quotes via Sky Sports

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This article was edited by Josh Barker.

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