Press conference

'We're following Saliba's progression closely'

With David Luiz leaving us at the end of the season, could that open the door for William Saliba next term?

The 20-year-old centre back has impressed since joining Nice on loan in January, and Mikel Arteta says we're keeping a close eye on his development.

"[Our loan manager] Ben Knapper is always in contact with him," the manager said. "He's the one creating every assessment.

"We are as a coaching staff, obviously following his progression, watching his games and in contact with him. It's not an ideal world [due to Covid] to feel that you still belong here and you can have a face-to-face relationship, but we try to do it in the best possible way.

"I would have liked for [the loan move] to have happened at the start of the season. We had eight central defenders, which is unheard of, but we didn't find the right moment, the right club, the right agreement to do that and in my opinion, we could have used those four or five months in a better way.

"We tried to maximise it when we decided to keep him here until December and now he's had a run of games that he needed after the difficult year that he had in the previous season.

"When we finish the season, we will sit down and discuss the roles of every member of the squad and how they can fulfil that role and he's our player so he'll be back here for sure. After that, we will make a decision based on the agreement of the role that each player is going to have in the squad."

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