Arsenal’s defence has taken another hit – sort of – with the news that young centre back William Saliba will be sidelined for some time with a broken bone in his foot.
The injury changes nothing for Unai Emery and the Gunners in the short term, as Saliba is on loan at Saint-Etienne for the season, but the 18-year-old’s impressive season is now stopped in its tracks, vastly reducing the amount of valuable experience he could gain from a spell of first-team football.
Saint-Etienne confirmed on their club website this week that Saliba picked up the injury against Monaco on the weekend, leaving him facing weeks – or months – sidelined.
The brief statement read: “William Saliba, victim of an injury against Monaco last Sunday, suffered a crack in his fifth metatarsal and will miss the confrontation against Oleksandriya in the Europa League.”
The Gunners’ backline has come in for heavy criticism at various points this season, not least after conceding 15 shots and throwing away a 1-0 lead against Vitoria in the Europa League this week. Emery’s side have conceded at least two goals in seven games in all competitions, and have now surrendered leads in four consecutive games – against Vitoria, Wolves, Liverpool and Crystal Palace.
Saliba, who at £27m will be expected to make an impact when he finally arrives in north London, said of his loan spell earlier this season:
“This is a big club, and when you come here, you need to be ready. So I’m going to try and have a great season with the club that developed me in order to be ready for Arsenal.”
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