MIkel Arteta previews AFC Wimbledon clash
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Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has been told exactly how best to use William Saliba by Marseille boss Jorge Sampaoli. Saliba joined Marseille on loan in the summer transfer window, having failed to break into Arteta’s plans at the Gunners.
The Frenchman saw Arteta bring in Ben White in July to add more competition in the central defensive department.
As a result, Saliba could see the writing on the wall, despite an impressive loan stint at Nice in the second half of last season.
He had failed to make an appearance for Arsenal’s senior side before moving to the Allianz Riviera Stadium.
The situation threatened to repeat itself this term, with Arteta still unwilling to bring Saliba into his plans.
With little prospect of substantial playing time at the Emirates Stadium, Saliba took the decision to go out on loan to France once again.
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Marseille are his escape route this time, with the 20-year-old quickly establishing himself as a regular in Sampaoli’s side.
He has started every game so far for his new club, as they emerged as the closest challengers to Paris Saint-Germain in the early stages of the campaign.
Saliba has been playing in a different system to the one he would have been training in at Arsenal, with Sampaoli preferring a 3-4-3 formation.
The Frenchman plays on the right side of the back three and it is a formation that he has thrived in so far.
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Marseille have the second-best defensive record in Ligue 1 and are yet to lose a game this season.
And his boss in the south of France has now given Arteta a pointer on how best to use Saliba, who Arsenal signed for £27million in 2019.
“He’s a top player at his position. We were lucky to get him on loan, it wasn’t simple,” Sampaoli told reporters.
“He’s great at marking, but good bringing the ball out too. He’s a future great of French football, he’s very good at starting plays.
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“He’s adapted to a three at the back well, and his performances are linked to the team’s, which likes to play from the back.”
That will be good news for Arteta, who has been trying to implement a system that utilises ball-playing defenders.
Saliba’s next outing for Marseille is likely to come tonight when Sampaoli’s side travel to third-place Angers.
Marseille are five points behind PSG having played a game less than Mauricio Pochettino’s high-powered side.
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