William Saliba shares an intriguing mind game Mikel Arteta played to gauge his character

During the previous pre-season, William Saliba disclosed an unconventional method that Mikel Arteta employed to assess his character at Arsenal.

Saliba played a crucial role in Arsenal’s title challenge last year, but his season was cut short by a back injury sustained in March, which coincided with the team’s decline in form.

Before his injury, the 22-year-old had started in every Premier League match and Arsenal boasted one of the best defensive records in the league during that period.

Saliba’s journey at Arsenal had its challenges as he had to patiently await his opportunity after joining the club as a teenager for £27 million.

He went through three loan spells and endured a 1,107-day wait before finally making his senior debut for the Gunners.

Arteta’s Saliba mind-games

Last year, during pre-season Saliba was reintegrated intoArsenal’sfirst team, yet his future under Arteta still appeared uncertain.

When reporting for training he was met with near-silence from his manager.

“I was so excited to do a pre-season with the team and to try to play in the Premier League and the Europa League,” Saliba told theMail Online.

“He said hello to me the first day and then after he didn’t speak with me.”

Arteta didn’t exchange a word with the 22-year-old for a week, keen to see how the Frenchman would act and react.

It was Arteta’s way of gauging the France international’s character.

Saliba continued: “I told myself to be good on the pitch, to give him a solution, to tell him: ‘Yeah I’m ready’.

“To tell him on the pitch is the better way… I knew one day he’ll come to speak to me.”

Of course, Saliba when on to become the anchor of his side’s backline, with his performances recently rewarded with a new four-year contract.

Saliba said: “I’m looking forward to the future with this club.

“The future will be good for everyone, I hope. It won’t be easy but we will work hard for this and I know the club will be back at the very, very top. We have to do everything to win every title possible.”

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