Martin Keown questions Arsenal about William Saliba decision

Arsenal made a mistake allowing Saint-Etienne defender William Saliba to return to the club on loan, according to a report

Martin Keown
Ex-Arsenal defender Martin Keown (Photo: BT Sport)

Martin Keown has questioned Arsenal’s decision to loan out William Saliba to Saint-Etienne for the 2019-20 Premier League season.

The Gunners signed Saliba in a £27m deal from Saint-Etienne last summer, landing one of the most exciting prospects in French top-flight football.

Arsenal’s deal for the teenager was dependent on Saliba returning to France for the Ligue 1 campaign before linking up with the Gunners squad in 2020.

However, the north London side struggled defensively throughout the current Premier League campaign after conceding 36 goals in 28 games.

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta inherited a defensive roster including centre-halves David Luiz, Shkodran Mustafi and Sokratis Papastathopoulos.

The Gunners signed Flamengo defender Pablo Mari and Southampton full-back Cedric Soares on loan in an attempt to bolster his defence in January.

Former Gunners defender Keown believes that Arsenal made a mistake allowing Saliba to return to Saint-Etienne given their need for centre-halves.

Keown told talkSPORT, as quoted by Metro: “There’s an awful lot of work to be done in there [defence]. There was the defender from Saint-Etienne William Saliba who they paid £27m for but was loaned back again.

“I could’t quite work that out because now I’m being told he’s world-class. Never mind if he’s world-class, if he was Premier League class it would have been good enough because that was an area of concern.”

Arsenal are in ninth position in the Premier League table and eight points behind Chelsea FC in the race to secure a top-four spot this term.

The Gunners will resume Premier League action with a trip to defending champions Manchester City at The Etihad on Saturday 17 June.

Arsenal appointed Arteta as Unai Emery’s replacement in November following their difficult start to the Premier League campaign.

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