Pundit fears Arsenal new boy could struggle under intense pressure

Undue pressure on new signing William Saliba to solve Arsenal’s defensive frailties could prove difficult for the teenager.

The warning comes from former Gunners defender turned pundit Martin Keown.

Arsenal appear to be on an upward trajectory under Mikel Arteta, with their recent FA Cup success proof of their progress.

However, there have been plenty of question marks over the Arsenal backline. They have shipped on average over 40 more goals across the past three Premier League seasons than their traditional top-six rivals.

Arsene Wenger, Unai Emery and now Arteta have been tasked with addressing the issue. The latter certainly is not spoilt for choice when all of his defenders are fit.

But plenty of hope is being placed on Saliba – a £27million signing from Saint-Etienne last summer.

As part of the deal, the 19-year-old remained on loan at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard last season. He is, however, now available to Arteta ahead of the 2020/21 campaign.

A number of injuries and the Ligue 1 season being curtailed meant he played just 12 league games this season. He also missed the Coupe de France final following a disagreement.

As such, Keown is very wary of fans putting too much pressure on Saliba. The player is still a teenager and has a total of just 28 league appearances to his name.


Asked if he felt there was undue pressure on the France U20 international, Keown said: “There definitely is.

“It is one of those. I would have been happier if Arsenal had paid more money and brought him at the start of last season.

“There have long-been questions over the Arsenal defence. Saliba was expensive, but he is also young and has not played that many professional games.

“It can’t be expected that he will walk straight into Arsenal, right into the team and be on it from the off.”


Keown wants fringe players sold

Arsenal have been linked with further defensive additions in recent weeks. Those include the likes of Gabriel Magalhaes of Lille and former Nice player Malang Sarr.

Denis Bouanga Gabriel Magalhaes - Pundit fears Arsenal new boy could struggle under intense pressure

But, with the likes of Saliba, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Rob Holding, Calum Chambers, Pablo Mari, David Luiz and Shkodran Mustafi – as well as Kieran Tierney and Sead Kolasinac – all vying for spots in the Gunners’ defence when fit and available, Keown feels some of the current crop will need moving on before Arteta is allowed to add to his resources.

“There are eight or nine central defenders contracted to the football club,” Keown added.

“So there is almost a team of central defenders. Obviously Arteta can’t retain all of them. Some of them should be moved out – even if some are currently injured.

“Arteta might not feel he can shift any of those defenders this summer. But the board will probably tell him he has to get rid of players in that position if he wants to sign a new centre-back.”


The post Pundit fears Arsenal new boy could struggle under intense pressure appeared first on teamtalk.com.

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