Arsenal’s central defensive options could look a little different come the start of next season.
Since the January transfer window closed, Gunners manager Mikel Arteta has been rotating between David Luiz, Rob Holding, Pablo Mari and Gabriel Magalhaes at the heart of his defence.
Meanwhile, Calum Chambers got minutes at centre-back in the 2-0 win over Newcastle United earlier in the month after coming on as a second half substitute at St James’ Park.
However, there’s a possibility that Arteta could lose one of his central defenders come the end of the season amid talk that David Luiz will leave upon the expiry of his contract at the Emirates Stadium.
Furthermore, the report states that Luiz’s services have been offered to a club in MLS (Major League Soccer) but his wage demands mean a move is unlikely.
There is also the option of staying in Europe amid links to Serie A outfit Lazio and the Luiz situation is one of the key things Arteta must resolve before the end of the season.
With that said, Arsenal may already have the perfect long-term replacement for David Luiz if he was to leave at the end of the season and he won’t cost the club a single penny.
William Saliba, who has been on loan in Ligue 1 with Nice since the January transfer window, will get his chance to impress in pre-season as revealed by Arteta.
“He will come back for pre-season and he will be with us,” said the Spaniard. “Hopefully he will come back after playing a number of games and his performance raising and his development progressing in the right way. That’s why we made that decision.
“I know that sometimes it’s difficult to explain or understand after the money that the club has spent trying to bring him in, to send him on loan.
“But a lot of things have happened to him he’s a long-term player for us and we need to protect him as well. And giving him three or four games is not enough.
“For him he needs much more than that, because what happened in the last 18 months, he’s been through some personal problems as well that we have to try to help him and stay as close as possible to him.
“And now he needs to play, play and play and enjoy his profession as well. And in order to do that I think we found the right club with him.
“He’s very happy to got there now. Hopefully he can enjoy his football and be ready for us for next season.”
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But for Saliba to cement himself as a starter next season and become one of Arteta’s untouchables, some Arsenal fans on Reddit would like to see an improvement in his positioning.
NemoDropEmOff said: “He is coming in pre-season, but he’s not great. He still gets caught of position and has done bad with his possession in crucial areas of the box. “He is very raw still.”
eddie442 said: “Saliba’s passing rarely seemed like much of an issue for the u23s, the biggest issues were being caught in possession and caught out of position.
“Haven’t watched him at Nice but hopefully he’s improved on both those fronts.”
TheTrippyGuyKroenkeOut said: “He does get out of position pretty often, still keeps the ball to himself for too long.
“I think his play in possession has gotten better considering nice are used to playing from the back and he’s gotten much better aerially.”
Houssem_Aouar said: “The out of position bit worries me tbh, that’s the exact same issue Gabriel has. We can’t have both of our CBs going on adventures in the middle.”