William Saliba has withdrawn from France’s Olympics squad to try and force his way into Mikel Arteta’s first-team plans at Arsenal.
The 20-year-old had been included in the initial 26-man squad for Tokyo but chose to pull-out of Sylvain Ripoll’s updated 21-man roster.
Amine Gouiri, Malanga Sarr, Eduardo Camavinga and Maxence Caqueret also missed out on the squad going for gold in Japan.
For Saliba, the difficult decision to turn his back on Olympics glory is motivated by a desire to break into Arsenal’s first-team, according to The Athletic.
Had the Frenchman taken part in the tournament, he would have missed a significant chunk of Arsenal’s pre-season programme.
The Olympics football tournament will begin on July 22nd, with the final taking place on August 7th.
That could have seen Saliba miss a huge chunk of the Gunners’ preparations for the season ahead.
Arsenal’s pre-season officially starts on July 7, before Mikel Arteta’s side travel to Scotland for games against Hibernian and Rangers.
The north Londoners will then head to Florida for a week on July 21 for games against Inter Milan and Everton or Millonarios.
Do you think Mikel Arteta should give William Saliba a chance next season? Let us know in the comments section.
If Saliba had gone to the Olympics and France managed to reach the gold medal match, he wouldn’t have been back at Arsenal until August 8 at the earliest – one week before the Gunners’ Premier League campaign begins against Brentford.
Now the defender will be available for the whole of pre-season as he attempts to nail down a place in Arteta’s team for next season.
Despite costing the Gunners an eye-watering £27million in 2019, Saliba has yet to make a first-team appearance for the club.
He was initially sent back out on-loan to former club St-Etienne and was unable to break into the Arsenal team upon his return.
The centre-half spent last term at Nice, where he made 22 appearances and won the club’s Player of the Month award for January.
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