Mikel Arteta’s doubts over William Saliba and why he is sending him out on loan

Mikel Arteta reportedly believes William Saliba's defending needs some work as he prepares to send the Arsenal centre-back out on loan again.

Saliba was expected to be part of Arteta's first-team plans this season having been handed the No4 shirt following his return from Saint-Etienne this summer.

However, the 19-year-old looks set to be loaned out to a Championship club, with Watford and Brentford both believed to be interested.

Arsenal signed Saliba from Saint-Etienne for £27million under Unai Emery's watch last summer, before loaning the defender back to the Ligue 1 club for a season.

And having seen Saliba up close since his return to the Emirates, Arteta does not think Saliba is ready for the Premier League – despite the youngster having impressed in the French top flight last term.

The Gunners backroom staff believe Saliba needs more time to develop, and have doubts about his ability to defend set-pieces, according to ESPN.

The publication claims they also want him to mature in his decision-making, with the centre-back having a tendency to dive into tackles.

Saliba is still rated as a bright prospect, but Arsenal signed Gabriel Magalhaes from Lille in the summer, and are well-stocked with other centre-half options – including David Luiz, Pablo Mari, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Shkodran Mustafi and Rob Holding.

The deadline day arrival of Thomas Partey from Atletico Madrid is also expected to aid the Gunners' defence with the £45m signing set to offer more protection from midfield.

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But while Saliba looks destined to drop down a division, Saint-Etienne have claimed they wanted his services for another season in Ligue 1.

The French club have claimed they were meant to reacquire the defender's services – insisting the deal collapsed because Arsenal failed to meet the "administrative conditions" in time.

“Long before the transfer window closed, AS Saint-Etienne had reached an agreement with William Saliba and accepted Arsenal's offer for a one-season loan," the Ligue 1 side said in an official statement.

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"Unfortunately, all the administrative conditions could not be met in time, in England, for the finalisation of the file.

"The disappointment is great for ASSE and William Saliba, particularly determined to return to the club where he had flourished.”

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