Martin Keown has questioned Arsenal’s ‘bizarre’ handling of teenager William Saliba after the club’s u-turn on a decision to loan out the young defender.
Arsenal secured the signing of the centre-back from Saint-Etienne in a £27m deal last summer, only for Saliba to remain on loan with the French side to continue his development for the 2019/20 campaign.
Saint-Etienne had been keen to extend his temporary stint to allow the 19-year-old to play in the Coupe de France final against Paris Saint-Germain, only for Arsenal to refuse the request to see Saliba head to London to link up with Mikel Arteta’s first-team squad.
However, what promised to be a breakthrough season has so far failed to materialise, with the youngster yet to make an appearance and featuring in just one match-day squad amid a wealth of competition at centre-back.
Brentford had reportedly expressed an interest in signing the player on loan before Arsenal decided against sanctioning another temporary spell away from the Emirates, a decision which has left former defender Keown baffled.
“It’s bizarre. We’ve just not seen the kid,” Keown told talkSPORT. “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.”