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William Saliba: Mikel Arteta admits he is 'fed up' with defender's Arsenal situation

Arsenal defender William Saliba has only made two matchday squads since joining the squad for this season; Mikel Arteta added that a loan move in January could be a possibility; Gunners boss praises Mohamed Elneny for his impact since returning from a loan spell

William Saliba
Image: William Saliba has featured for Arsenal's U23 side but is yet to make his debut for the first team

Mikel Arteta has admitted he is "fed up" with William Saliba's situation, with the defender still waiting to make his debut for Arsenal more than a year after signing.

Saliba arrived at the Emirates Stadium from Saint-Etienne for £27m in July 2019. He spent the 2019-20 season on loan back at the Ligue 1 club but made only 17 appearances in all competitions.

The 19-year-old was incorporated into the Gunners' squad for this campaign but he has not spent a single minute on the pitch and has been left out of their Europa League squad.

Saint-Etienne accused Arsenal of reneging on an agreement to send Saliba back to France on Deadline Day - something the Premier League side denied - while prospective loans to Championship clubs also failed to materialise.

It has led to an underwhelming introduction to English football for Saliba, and Arteta appears to share the France U20 international's frustration.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta in his pre-match press conference
Image: Mikel Arteta was forced to leave some first-team players - including Saliba - out of his Europa League squad due to competition restrictions

He said: "I'm fed up with the situation because, as you could see, we tried to find a way in the last few days to give him some football.

"I explained that he needed that transition year when we decided to buy him and send him on loan to Saint-Etienne. For many reasons, that didn't happen - he didn't have that transition year and he needs to go through that.

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"At the moment, with the amount of central defenders we have in the team, we had to leave him out of the squad, which is painful. Now we have some injuries and we could have used him but this is part of the profession."

Arteta added that a loan move in January could be a possibility for Saliba, saying: "We certainly tried in the last few days of the transfer window to find the right club but we could not.

"We will review the situation in the next few weeks and sit down with him and see what is the best thing to do. But it will depend on him and other players' situations as well."

'Elneny responding to challenges'

One player who has been given opportunities to impress at Arsenal this season is Mohamed Elneny, who has returned to the squad after spending last season on loan at Besiktas.

Mohamed Elneny
Image: Mohamed Elneny has earned praise for his performances since returning to Arsenal from a loan spell with Besiktas last season

The 28-year-old has featured in nine of the Gunners' 12 games so far this season, including the entirety of their impressive 1-0 win against Manchester United at Old Trafford last Sunday.

Elneny's performances have prompted talk of a new contract for the midfielder - who has less than two years remaining on his current deal - but Arteta is in no rush.

"He is responding very well to all the challenges that we are putting in front of him," he said. "He had a big one when he came back from his loan spell to show what he could bring to the squad.

"I think everybody has seen what he can do, so I am very pleased with his performances and what he brings to the team.

"Let's go step by step. What I can say is I am very pleased with the player and everything that he's doing. Hopefully we can continue like that and perform really well through the season."

Arteta: Aubameyang showed no disrespect

Arteta also insisted he felt no disrespect from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang following comments from Sky Sports pundit Roy Keane after Sunday's win over Manchester United.

Mikel Arteta
Image: Arteta says he feels no disrespect from his Arsenal players

Keane was not impressed with how Aubameyang addressed his manager, saying: "He didn't show him respect when he called him by his name, Mikel.

"He's the manager, the boss, the gaffer. That's respect. Not Mikel, he's not his mate."

Asked about those comments during his press conference ahead of Thursday's Europa League game against Molde, Arteta insisted he was not offended.

"I was told that Roy mentioned that, but I don't think it particularly. I give the players the choice, some call me boss or coach, it depends," said the Arsenal manager.

"I shared a dressing room with some of them so there has been that change, but I don't feel any disrespect. Although, I understand Roy and why he was saying that.

"It is something that was a bit of a concern before I joined, but not now. Both parties have to understand respect and go about the relationship in the right way and the players have made it really easy for me.

"In the end, we are part of the same thing and it has not been something that has been difficult to manage."

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