Arteta issues warning to Arsenal fans over Saliba expectations
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Arteta issues warning to Arsenal fans over Saliba expectations

The defender will link up with the Gunners after playing for Saint-Etienne in the Coupe de France final

Mikel Arteta has warned against putting too much expectation on William Saliba ahead of next season.

Arsenal signed the centre-back last summer from Saint-Etienne in a £27 million ($33m) deal and immediately loaned him back to the Ligue 1 outfit for the 2019-20 campaign.

Despite being just 19 and having only made 32 senior appearances in his career so far, there are many who believe the teenager is going to come in and immediately improve the Arsenal defence next season.

But Arteta believes it would be unfair to put too much pressure on the Frenchman ahead of his debut campaign in the Premier League.

“I know how high the expectations are on him for next year but we have to bear in mind the age that he’s at and what he’s done in the past,” said Arsenal’s head coach.

“We have to make sure we create the right environment for him so he can keep growing as a player.”

Saliba has managed just 15 appearances for Saint-Etienne this season due to two significant injury issues.

A hamstring problem saw him miss the opening month of the campaign before a fractured metatarsal saw him sidelined for nearly three months over the turn of the year.

While he was sidelined, Saliba spent some time at Arsenal and has been in contact with Arteta since he replaced Unai Emery in December.

“I’ve spoken with him a few times,” said the Spaniard. “He’s been around here a few times as well.

“We’ve been following him this season. Again, as a young player he had a difficult season with the injuries he’s had but it’s part of his process.”

Although the Ligue 1 season was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Coupe de France final is still scheduled to be played on July 24 and will be between Saint-Etienne and Paris Saint-Germain.

Arsenal have been in talks with Saint-Etienne ahead of the game, with the French club keen for Saliba to be involved – but the situation has been complicated as the defender’s loan ends on Tuesday, June 30.

Arteta has revealed, however, that the centre-back will be able to feature in the final.

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“I think he needs to stay there, we’ve got an agreement with Saint-Etienne,” said Arsenal’s head coach.

“He’s been all year over there, he’s earned his right to play that final if the manager wants him to do that

“I think we have to give him the opportunity to do that, to enjoy that and we can have him after.”

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