Tag Archives: william saliba

Arsenal fans unhealthy obsession with young players

The rise of social media has confided with fans having an unhealthy obsession with young players who have achieved nothing the in the game.

Previously, “fan accounts” were for a clubs best players. Alexis Sanchez. Mesut Ozil. Aaron Ramsey. And so on.

However with fans now driven by “being first”, many any end “fan boying” young players. They can then say “I was a big fan ever since he was 1 if he makes it.

These sort of people probably run multiple account for every young player; in the hope one makes it and they gain thousands of followers. A fairy sad existence.

But what it has led to at Arsenal is the over hyping of Willian Saliba and Folarin Balogan.

Saliba has been overhyped since the day we signed him around 18 months ago. “The new van Dijk” or “the Mbappe of central defenders” they called him.

The reality is he was just 18 when he signed and had barely played senior football.

Fans then cried that Mikel Arteta was not playing him. They would post up videos showing one good tackle. One good control. One good clearance. But they turned a blind eye to his rashness and mistakes.

These people had not actually seen him play. They hyped him up for clout; and as an extension of the Mesut Ozil debate.

They hate Mikel Arteta over his treatment of Ozil, so automatically any player Arteta doesn’t play becomes brilliant, and any he plays is awful. It is very transparent.

Most of those slating Arteta for not picking Saliba are also firmly in the “Ozil is a legend” camp. They don’t really rate Saliba, they just rate any player Arteta does not.

But ultimately Arteta sees Saliba every day in training. He sees him alongside Rob Holding, Shkodran Mustafi, Gabriel and Pablo Mari.

Arteta is best placed to make a decision on young players. Not some kid who has never seen him player.

People seem to have forgotten that Virgil van Dijk was playing in Holland for Groningen at 18.

He then moved to Celtic in Scotland before coming to the Premier League at 24. Not to join a big club but to join Southampton.

It was not until he was 26 that Liverpool made him the most expensive defender in the world.

Van Dijk was not even a full Dutch international until he was 24. As a young player he was very much recognised as someone who was a fantastic physical specimen but rash in the challenge and error prone. A bit like Saliba.

From what I have seen of Saliba he reminds me of a young Rio Ferdinand. He strolls through games but is too casual on the ball.

Ferdinand, like van Dijk, did not become the worlds most expensive overnight.

He started at West Ham before joining Leeds United.

Manchester United signed Ferdinand at 24, by which time he had played nearly 200 Premier League games.

Saliba will become a very good central defender. But he has a lot to learn. He needs to get 100 appearances under his belt, improve his game awareness and grow. Even if we do not see him for another 2 seasons he will still just be 21.

He needs to be given the time to develop.

Like Saliba, Balogun has a fan base which is mystifying.

People are claiming that Balogun should be playing ahead of Eddie Nketiah, ahead of Gabriel. Ahead of Alex Lacazette.

This is a guy that has performed well at youth level. But it is way to wary for people to be writing him into starting XIs.

Compare him to Bukayo Saka.

Saka is 2 months younger than Balogun and has over 60 appearances.

I see some say “Arteta hates young players”; but Saka disproves that.

It is clear that Arteta will play you regardless of your age as long as you are good enough.

Saka is good enough, Balogun is not yet.

That does not mean Balogun will not become a good striker, but as it stands he is 5th choice – behind Lacazette, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Gabriel and Nketiah.

The best comparison at the club for Balogun is Gabriel.

Born within days of each other, Gabriel has shown he is Premier League quality. Balogun has not.

A couple of goals as a teenager off the bench in the Europa League does not suddenly make him a superstar. It is no more than what either Gabriel or Nketiah have done.

The Balogun deal is reportedly held up either due to money or playing time.

On money; it is ludicrous to say “just pay him what he wants”. I have seen some say “sell Nketiah and pay his transfer fee to Balogun”. These people do not know much about football.

Chelsea paid Callum Hudson-Odoi a reported £120,000 a week to keep him. This would make Balogun one of Arsenal’s top 10 paid players.

The level below that is Saka and Gabriel.

Both recently signed new deals for a reported £90,000 a week. Both deserved their new deals after consistent performances.

Anyone who thinks it is logical to pay Balogun more – or even par – to Saka and Gabriel is a plonker.

We have enough disharmony in the squad without paying an unproven youth player more than establish youth players.

Even paying Balogun the same as Rob Holding (who will deserve his new deal) is wrong. Balogun has literally achieved nothing in football and some fans want us to tie up £25m in a contract for him.

If it is playing time Balogun wants, then he has a two options.

Sign a new deal and take a loan or leave.

The fact is Balogun has players ahead of him in the pecking order at Arsenal.

Even if you discount Nketiah (whose time is probably running out); he is still behind Aubameyang, Lacazette and Gabriel. He has not shown he is better than any of those.

So sign a contract and take a 6 month loan deal. Go smash in half a dozen goals in the Championship. Come back having proven that you can compete with Gabriel to be back up to Aubameyang (I think Lacazette will leave in the summer). But the key is go and prove what you can do.

We have seen good youth strikers before at Arsenal. Lupoli, Afobe, Akpom, Nketiah. Dominated U18 games does not mean you will automatically step up.

His other option is to leave. To follow the likes of Stephy Mavididi and Xavier Amaechi out the door. Where are those two now?

Of course, some will say he is the “new Gnabry” – something people put out every time a young Arsenal players leaves.

Mavididi and Amaechi have done little since leaving the club.

Donyell Malen has dropped a level and is now performing well in Holland. But Saka is levels ahead (and the same age).

I would imagine if Nketiah left for Holland, he would outside Malen.

A lot of people also point to Jeff Reine-adélaïde as “another Gnabry”.

“The Jeff” is now 22 and has yet to do anything to prove Arsenal wrong in letting him go.

He went to Angers, where after a good season he earned himself a big money move to Lyon. They have now loaned him out to Nice. He turns 23 in a week.

Is Jeff better than Saka? No. Is he even better than Willock? Probably not. And Emile Smith Rowe is not too far behind.

Balogun and Saliba are good young players, but they are not on the level of senior first team Arsenal players. Anyone that thinks they are is either deluded or agenda driven.

For every Cesc there is a Merida. Every Wilshere a Zelalem. Every Anelka and Afobe.

Bar Gnabry – who had not played for 2 years – Arsenal have not regretted losing a young player. Not been proved wrong in allowing them to go.

It will happen again. But we have to back the decisions of the coach. The management.

And ultimately back the players who are at the club. Who want to stay here. Not those that think the grass is greener elsewhere.



Do Arsenal risk squad disharmony with 8 potential “new signings”

“8 new signings” would be crazy turnover for a single summer. Nearly 1 third of the squad. But having been sensible in January, this is the situation Arsenal could be in this summer.

If all goes well, Arsenal could add Gabriel, Thomas Partey, Dani Ceballos & Amadou Diawara to the confirmed summer signings of Willian, Pablo Mari and Cedric Soares.

Add in William Saliba and that will be 7 new signings this summer, and an 8th player signed last season but was left parked at his old club for a season.

Usually this amount of turnover would take 6 months for players to settle and gel. But Arsenal’s forward planning means it is a doable transfer window.

Cedric Soares

Joining in January on loan, Arsenal quickly snapped Portuguese right back on a free transfer once his contract at Southampton had expired.

He has already been at the club for nearly 7 months, training with team mates. With 5 appearances in the bag for Arsenal and 120 Premier League appearances under his belt for Southampton, he will not take any settling down what so ever.

Pablo Mari

Like Cedric Soares, Pablo Mari joined Arsenal on loan in January before a deal was completed in June.

Due to injury, he has played just 3 games for Arsenal in the 7 months he has been at the club.

But that 7 months takes out the usual half year a player takes to settle.

When he returns to full training, he will not require any integrating into the squad.


339 games for Chelsea, 234 in the Premier League. The only thing Willian will need is how much further London Colney is round the M25 from Cobham. About 45 miles.

He might not have played for Arsenal previously, but there will not be too many players who have played more Premier League games than him next season.

Dani Ceballos

Hopefully we get a deal over the line for Dani Ceballos – whether it is a permanent deal or another loan deal.

Having now played 36 games for Arsenal, the axis of Ceballos and Granit Xhaka was a key reason Arsenal won the FA Cup.

He might be a “new signing” this summer, but he will not be a new face at the training ground.

William Saliba

Opposite to Dani Ceballos is William Saliba.

He signed permanently last summer, but then spent the season on loan at St Etienne

Saliba will take some time to settle, which is why it is important that club kept David Luiz.


Not yet done but Arsenal are hopefully of getting the deal over the line.

Gabriel will be in the same boat as William Saliba. A new face in the training ground.

David Luiz will be key helping Gabriel and Saliba settle.

Thomas Partey

Atletico Madrid midfielder would be a big coup for Arsenal. He will be another new face.

Amadou Diaware

Likewise Diawara will be a new face.

So Arsenal could make 7 new signings this summer, with William Saliba being an 8th new player. Yet of the 8, only 5 would have not yet played for Arsenal and be a new face in the training ground, and of those 5, 4 come with no Premier League experience.

I would usually worry about so many new signings. But with half of them now being new faces, Arsenal would have improved the squad without too much disruption.

We just then need to lose half dozen players (Sokratis, Rob Holding, Ainsley Maitland Niles, Matteo Guendouzi, Lucas Torerria, Alex Lacazette) to make space for them.

Onwards and upwards.


Mustafi to stay, Guendouzi to go as Arsenal look to go 6th

Games are coming thick and fast now.

Tonight we play Leicester. And if it feels like we only played a couple of days ago; that is because we did.

Whilst some managers have complained about the short turn around for players, the actual truth is that teams in Europe are in this situation every season.

Arsenal would have played Saturday / Sunday and Tuesday / Wednesday for 6 weeks (bar a game against Southampton on a Thursday).

This is not much difference than what clubs do in November and October, jumping from weekend Premier League games to mid-week European and League Cup matches.

The only major difference is there is no international break (which sees players fly across the globe) and the furthest a club would have to travel is either Newcastle or Bournemouth rather than taking midnight flights to deepest darkest Eastern Europe, also known as Belarus.

For teams like Arsenal, players will be used to playing twice a week. And the lack of long travel for Euro aways is actually easier on their body.

Teams lower down in the league might complain that they do not have the resources to play twice a week for long periods, but you never hear them feel sorry for top clubs when they arrive back in the UK from Moscow at 3am Friday morning, and then need to be in Newcastle for a noon kick off on Sunday.

Plenty of news floating about this morning.

The first is Arsenal are considering a new deal for Shkodran Mustafi.

He has been in fine form since returning to the team under Mikel Arteta, and has always been a good centre back. He just makes a mistake every 7 or 8 games that leads to conceding a goal. And it always seemed to lead to a goal which saw Arsenal lose, rather than a consultation goal in a 5-1 victory.

With his deal running out next summer, Arsenal need to make the decision soon.

The club have been impressed with his contribution during the Covid19 pandemic. The German donated over 16,000 meals and other emergency supplies to people in Islington.

He has stepped up as a personality within the squad, and maybe the club have looked at the finances and what players are available on the market and decided Mustafi might be the best choice?

With Pablo Mari signing, David Luiz staying and William Saliba returning, adding Mustafi and one of Rob Holding or Calum Chambers would not be a bad group of central defenders.

Since Arteta took over, Arsenal have conceded 14 goals in 15 league games. Only Liverpool and Manchester United have conceded less (11). Across all games Arsenal have kept 10 clean sheets in 21 games.

The current defenders at the club are certainly making a case to be kept, rather than big investment made in another new central defender.

My gut is stick with what we have, Saliba and Mari are new signings, and then next summer recruit someone to replace David Luiz is Mari, Saliba or Mustafi do not form a solid partnership.

LONDON, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 24: Shkodran Mustafi of Arsenal embraces Matteo Guendouzi of Arsenal after the UEFA Europa League group F match between Arsenal FC and Vitoria Guimaraes at Emirates Stadium on October 24, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

On William Saliba, a headline this morning is that “Arsenal have made a U-turn” with allowing him to play in the French Cup final.

This story has always been written from a very odd standpoint.

The media criticised Arsenal for “going back on an agreement” that “angered Saint-Étienne.” But then the truth came out that Saint-Étienne were demanding an additional £2.5million for Saliba to play one game.

Why would Arsenal pay the French side £2.5million to pay one game when not contracted to? – remember the original loan deal had expired so a new temporary loan deal would have to be agreed.

Arsenal were painted in the media as the bad guys, when it is clear that all Saint-Étienne was the money.

Now it is reported that “Arsenal have made a U-turn”. Again, making it appear Arsenal were the bad guys.

Chances are it is Saint-Étienne who have U-turned; realising that having their first choice central defender play a final is more important than the £2.5million they wanted Arsenal to pay.

The French side basically had a choice:

  1. Accept no fee, get Saliba for the final
  2. Do not accept no fee, don’t get Saliba for the final, receive no money

In both situations they do not get money; but in only one situation they get their on-loan defender for their biggest game in recent history.

We end today with the rumours over Matteo Guendouzi.

David Ornstein broke the news last night that the Frenchman had been training alone since the post-match spat with Brighton.

It shows Arteta’s authoritarian stance.

Guendouzi has previously mocked Unai Emery, cause issues for Freddie Ljungberg and was dropped following a row with coaching staff during the mid-season trip to Dubai.

A lot of Guendouzi’s behaviour can be labelled as “immature”.

From mocking Emery’s accent to taking his shirt off at dinner and waving it over his head in Dubai. Whilst he is only 21-years-old, footballers need to grow up quickly.

Everyone has been impressed with the maturity shown by Bukayo Saka. He talks well and behaves in the way you would expect of an Arsenal youngster.

Compare Guendouzi to Declan Rice.

They are the same age, but in recent weeks Rice has stepped up as a leader on the pitch for West Ham, captaining them a few times. He is showing the mentality needed to become a top player. Guendouzi is not.

The ball is now in Guendouzi’s court.

He either needs to take responsibility for his behaviour, his actions; stop being the class clown and concentrate on his football. Or be sold.

Guendouzi’s current deal runs out in 2022. This summer he should be signing a new 5-year double your money deal. Instead he could find himself being shipped out.

There will be no shortage of suiters for the midfielder, who is still one of the brightest prospects in Europe. Like with Mario Balotelli and other problem players, managers will think “if he matures, I can get him to play, there could be a world class player in there”.

Arsenal might be best off getting cashing in rather than hoping he quickly matures.

The £40million he would raise would be key transfer funds, almost paying for Thomas Partey.

On a final note, we remember the 52 people that died in the 7/7 London bombings; 15 years ago today. We shall never surrender.