William Saliba: I cannot go back to Arsenal to sit on the bench
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William Saliba: I cannot go back to Arsenal to sit on the bench

Arsenal defender William Saliba has stated that if he is to continue in North London, he requires consistent playing time.

Since joining Arsenal in 2019, the France international has made just eight appearances for the Gunners' Under-23 team and has been loaned out to Saint-Etienne, Nice, and Marseille.

Saliba has established himself as a regular for Olympiens, who are pursuing the Champions League, and his performance in the 2021-22 season earned him his first call-up to the senior France squad.

When he returns in the summer, the 21-year-old is anticipated to be incorporated into Mikel Arteta's first squad, although he has stated that he would not be content with a backup position at the Emirates.

Speaking to L'Equipe, Saliba said: "I definitely can't settle for being on the bench at Arsenal and being happy [with it]. I want to be a starter. But then if I do get into the rotation as a substitute, it wouldn't be like staying with the U23 and never being on the team.

"They [Arsenal] are in contact with my agent [Djibril Niang]. They send me messages. They watch my games. They tell me I need to carry on like this. I haven't played a lot with the Gunners.

"The manager [Mikel Arteta] made his choice, that's life. I left on loan, I'm playing a lot of matches, and thanks to my performances, I've become a full international.

"What happened to me has seen me forge a stronger mentality. It's not because you cost €30m (£25.3m) that you're going to play. I see things positively. Even if there are moments where you ask yourself questions. For six months, I could see I was the only one in the squad that wasn't playing, that would hurt."

Saliba earlier stated that continuing at Marseille "would not be a terrible idea," but Jorge Sampaoli's side were allegedly hit with a one-year transfer ban by FIFA in January following their acquisition of Pape Gueye.

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