Mikel Arteta has revealed that William Saliba is in a “much better place” as he continues to adapt to life at Arsenal.
The French defender linked up with the Arsenal squad in the summer transfer window after the Gunners agreed a deal to sign him last year but loaned him back to Saint-Etienne for last season.
Saliba was left out of Arsenal’s Europa League squad for this season because the Gunners already had 19 non-homegrown players, which is two more than Uefa allow.
The 19-year-old defender arrived at Arsenal with a promising reputation but he is yet to make a single appearance for the Gunners following his move from Saint-Etienne in the summer.
Arteta has now revealed that he has been pleased by what he has seen from Saliba recently, but he did appear to hint that he was disappointed not to be able to call upon the defender for Arsenal’s Europa League clash against Dundalk on Thursday night.
Arteta said of Saliba before the Europa League game: “He’s in a much better place.
“He’s feeling a lot more confident around the place, his language is improving and he’s starting to understand much better what we’re doing physically.
“He’s played a few games, with the Under-23s, which he needed because he didn’t play any football in the last seven or eight months. Things are progressively getting better and better.
“I feel really bad for William Saliba. Because we had so many central defenders we decided to leave him out of the [Europa League] squad, which was really hurtful for me to do.
“I was hoping that Pablo [Mari] 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. But when you make those decisions you can’t always think about every possible outcome.”
Arsenal will return to Premier League action on Sunday afternoon when they travel to Old Trafford to take on old foes Manchester United.
The north London side are aiming to bounce back to winning ways in the top flight after their 1-0 loss to Leicester City at The Emirates last time out.