Mikel Arteta sanctioned William Saliba’s impending loan departure from Arsenal after identifying two major weaknesses in the France Under-21 international’s defending.
Arsenal spent £27million on the teenager last summer but were forced to send him back on loan to Saint-Etienne as part of the deal.
Injuries and the early abandonment of the French domestic season saw Saliba’s progression stunted and Arteta has since deemed the youngster not yet ready for regular first team football.
Saliba featured in a a pre-season friendly against MK Dons but is still waiting to make his senior debut and will now be sent on loan to a Championship club, most likely Watford or Brentford, to gain further experience.
Arteta has kept a keen eye on Saliba in training and, according to ESPN, believes he needs to improve his defending at set-pieces and resist the temptation to go to ground if he is to make the step up and ultimately become a regular in his Premier League starting XI.
Arsenal were in talks about a possible return to Saint-Etienne, while Rennes also registered an interest, but both potential deals collapsed on deadline day.
Arteta’s first team squad is currently top heavy with centre halves, especially in light of the failure to offload the likes of Shkodran Mustafi and Soktratis Papastathopulos.
David Luiz and Rob Holding have also been retained and have featured prominently in the early weeks of the season, while summer recruit Gabriel Magalhaes has made a positive early impression following his move from Lille.