Mikel Arteta says he has been impressed by the adaptation of teenager William Saliba at Arsenal and says David Luiz is a ‘role model’ for his young defenders.
Saliba was signed by predecessor Unai Emery in a £27m deal last summer before remaining with Saint-Etienne on a season-long loan deal, the centre-back continuing his development in his native France before joining up with his Arsenal teammates ahead of the new campaign.
The 19-year-old is yet to make his first appearance for the north London side and was left out of the matchday squad for the club’s opening Premier League fixtures against Fulham and West Ham, but could be handed an opportunity when the Gunners face Leicester in the Carabao Cup this evening.
Arteta suggested he will take a patient approach with the defender following a ‘challenging season’ last term, but says he is confident Saliba will become an ‘important’ part of the club’s future.
“I think William is doing really well,” Arteta told his pre-match press conference.
“He is adapting to the country, adapting to our club. 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 also discussed the influence of David Luiz on his young defenders, with the Brazil international having signed a contract extension at the Emirates despite an indifferent season on the pitch.
The Spaniard believes the experience of the 33-year-old makes him a ‘really good role model’ for his emerging defensive options and insists the likes of Saliba and summer signing Gabriel will benefit from playing alongside the veteran.
“He is a really good role model for them, for who David is as a person and as a player and everything he has achieved in the game,” Arteta added. “I think they are lucky to have him around.”