Martin Keown has questioned Arsenal’s ‘bizarre’ handling of William Saliba since the club signed the defender from Saint-Etienne and admits the situation has left him puzzled.
The Gunners landed Saliba back in July 2019 for a fee of around £27million before immediately loaning the Frenchman back to Saint-Etienne for the 2019/20 campaign.
Arsenal’s refusal to extend Saliba’s temporary agreement so he could participate in the Coupe de France final infuriated Saint-Etienne and the dispute has rumbled on over the summer, with the Ligue 1 outfit missing out on a second loan deal for the 19-year-old.
Brentford also registered a strong interest in Saliba but Arsenal have reportedly had second thoughts about letting the youngster leave on loan and Mikel Arteta now intends to keep him with the first-team.
Speaking on talkSPORT, Keown urged Arsenal to loan Saliba to a Championship club if he’s not ready for Premier League football and admitted the whole situation had left him bewildered.
‘It’s bizarre. We’ve just not seen the kid,’ the ex-Arsenal centre-half said ahead of Friday’s deadline.
‘You want to see him to see how he performs say in the Championship to see if he’s good enough.
‘I’m anxious to see. The feeling was that this was going to be the one.
‘Gabriel has come in and been an outstanding signing.
‘Maybe they feel he’s too young and want him to go out to pastures new.
‘To then loan him out when there was a real problem there last season seems a real mystery.’
The Brazilian defender was named Arsenal’s Player of the Month with 72 per cent of the vote for September.
Alexandre Lacazette and Hector Bellerin came second and third in the vote.