Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has explained his reasoning for not starting William Saliba so far this season.
The Gunners signed the 19-year-old defender last summer from Saint-Etienne for a fee of £27million.
Saliba, who as a target for Arsenal's bitter rivals Tottenham, was immediately loaned back to the Ligue 1 side for the duration of the 2019-20 campaign in order to further his progression.
Many expected the highly-touted centre-half – who has represented France from Under-16 to Under-20 level – to be immediately thrust into the limelight.
He has, however, yet to be included in the first-team squad this season – a decision which has perplexed many Arsenal fans.
Gunners newboy Gabriel Magalhaes has been at the heart of the north Londoners' defence for both of their league wins over Fulham and West Ham.
And according to Arteta, the exclusion of Saliba – who was sidelined for three months last season due to injury – stems from his ongoing adaptation process.
“I think William is doing really well," the Spaniard said of Saliba. "He is adapting to the country, adapting to our club.
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“We have to bear in mind that he had a really challenging season last year with the amount of injuries that he had.
“But he is a player that is going to be really important in our future, things sometimes take some time and we have to respect that.”
Arteta reckons both Saliba and Magalhaes will learn a great deal this season from veteran defender David Luiz.
He said: “I think he is a really good role model for them, for who David is as a person and as a player.
“With everything he has achieved in the game – I think they are lucky to have him around.”
Arsenal will be back in action this evening, travelling to the King Power Stadium to take on Leicester City in the third round of the Carabao Cup.
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