William Saliba has revealed he has spoken to manager Mikel Arteta about his role this coming season and intends to fight for his place in the Arsenal starting XI.
The 21-year-old defender has had a rather difficult time since joining the Gunners in 2019, having been immediately loaned back to Saint-Etienne before spells at Nice and Marseille followed – where he excelled last season.
Saliba – who is yet to make an appearance for the first team – has been frustrated with his lack of opportunities under Arteta, having been dropped down to the development squad in the 2020-21 campaign.
He had been heavily linked with a permanent move to Marseille, but Arsenal have always been keen to reintegrate him.
With Europa League football next season, Saliba will get plenty of minutes and he appears to have had an encouraging conversation with Arteta about his role in the side.
Asked if Arteta had explained his plan for the defender this season, Saliba told the club’s official website: ‘We spoke a little bit on Monday and will speak more.
‘My plan is to work, to fight, to work with the team, to win everything that is possible. To grow more and to win everything and fight for this season.’
Saliba was given extra time off having been involved in France’s summer internationals and only reported for training on Monday before the squad flew out to the USA for their pre-season tour on Thursday.
On linking back up with the team after a year away, he said: ‘It feels good to be back and starting pre-season. I’m so excited to continue training and playing in the friendly games.
‘It’s important to be here with the fans, as well as my teammates. I hope we’ll enjoy some good training and games which is important before the start of the season.’
Despite the doubts surrounding Saliba’s future at Arsenal – and willingness to return to the club – he says he always planned on coming back and kept a close eye on the team’s performances while he was in Marseille.
He added: ‘When I was on loan I watched every single [Arsenal] game because when I was there some players weren’t.
‘I watched the games to see how they played, so when I was back it would be easier to play with those I hadn’t met before.’
Ben White and Gabriel Magalhaes formed an excellent partnership in the heart of the defence for Arsenal last season and will be very hard for Saliba to dislodge.
For more stories like this, check our sport page.
Follow Metro Sport for the latest news on
Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.