This article is part of Football FanCast’s Loan Watch series, which takes a closer look at those players who are aiming to galvanise their careers away from the spotlight of their parent club.
When William Saliba signed for Arsenal in the summer, the Saint-Etienne teenager may have been an unknown entity to many.
That would be understandable, as the 18-year-old defender had only made 13 Ligue 1 starts for the club, coming on as a substitute 3 times.
Now, having beaten Tottenham Hotspur to sign him for £27m, there will likely be plenty of fans keeping an eye out on how the talent is doing.
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There will have had to be patience though, as he missed the first seven league games of the campaign with a hamstring injury, while he also broke a bone in his foot at the beginning of November, as reported by The Mirror.
Having made a one-minute cameo to get back into things after the initial issue, he has only managed four starts this season, though there is plenty of encouragement to be had from his performances in them.
For starters, three clean sheets were kept – against Lyon, Bordeaux and Monaco – during those four starts he made, with the latter of those being the game during which he broke a bone in his foot.
His statistics are also fairly impressive, as the teenager averages 2.2 tackles, 2 interceptions and 2.5 clearances per 90 minutes, while he also completed 85.5% of his attempted passes.
What is perhaps the biggest indicator of how much he has impressed, is the frustration Claude Puel feels about the fact Saliba will eventually be leaving, as reported by L’Equipe, via The Athletic: “It’s hard to accept the fact we sold our best player, a young kid, to help fill the coffers.
“When you have to sell your gems to sort out the budget and then do short-term deals to fill in the gaps, you’re just being reactionary. It’s done now, and I’ve got nothing to say because it allows us to perform.”
With Arsenal enduring defensive issues this campaign, they will be hoping that Saliba continues to progress once he returns to action, ready to make an impact for the club next season.