Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has been told what he needs to do with William Saliba next season as the Gunners look set to battle with Manchester United over the £40million signing of Ajax’s Lisandro Martinez.
Arsenal reportedly upped their offer for the Argentine who can play in defence and midfield, but do have Saliba coming back from his Marseille loan in addition to Ben White, Gabriel Magalhaes and Rob Holding as centre-backs Arteta can call upon.
Former Aston Villa striker Gabby Agbonlahor believes that Saliba should start in the heart of Arsenal’s defence next season alongside Gabriel.
Agbonlahor told Football Insider:
I’ve watched Saliba a few times and he’s got that speed that you like to see in a centre-half. He’s very good at making the right decision at the right time. “Arsenal’s defence is nowhere near good enough to get top-four. For me, Ben White is very overrated.
I watched him against Newcastle towards the end of the season and he was absolutely dreadful. He lacks pace, he lacks aggression. Yes, he’s good on the ball but he’s not a defensive midfielder, he’s a centre-half.
Arsenal need two centre-halves who are no-nonsense and have both got speed. For me, Gabriel and Saliba would be my starters next season. With Ben White, I think Brighton are laughing at getting the fee they got for him because he’s not good enough.
It’s a shame that Arsenal have wasted a lot of money again. It was the same with [Nicolas] Pepe. Ben White was not needed and Saliba should start ahead of him.
Saliba has spent two years out on loan since Arsenal paid £27m to sign him from Saint-Etienne, and shone during his time in France so much that he made his debut for the national team earlier this year.
He was named the Ligue 1 Young Player of the Year and there have been rumours of Saliba returning to Marseille on a permanent basis, but transfer expert Fabrizio Romano has claimed that Arteta and the club count on Saliba as part of the team next season, and that Arsenal are keen on discussing a new contract for the 21-year-old.