Arsenal goalkeeping legend David Seaman has urged a trio of Arsenal loan stars to follow William Saliba’s lead and use their time away from the club to become better players. The French centre-back spent three seasons in Ligue 1 before returning to north London this campaign, where he has taken the Premier League by storm.
Manager Mikel Arteta had to be ruthless during the summer and trim down the squad by offloading players who were set to struggle for regular game time. Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Nicolas Pepe and Nuno Tavares were among those to make way with loan moves to Southampton, Nice and Marseille respectively.
Although none of the three have managed to consistently make their mark on Arsenal’s first team, Seaman doesn’t subscribe to the idea that the loan exits signal the end of their Gunners career. Instead, he has urged them to look towards Saliba, who spent three seasons away before returning a force to be reckoned with at the back.
“Yes [they’ve got a future] because they should come back as better players because they’re playing more,” he told Express Sport. “Now they’ve got a chance to play somewhere else. Just look at the Saliba situation and how it helped him.
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Arteta will surely keep a close eye on the progress of all three players this campaign. By the international break, Maitland-Niles has already made his first appearance for Southampton, Pepe has notched his first Ligue 1 goal for Nice and Tavares is off to an absolute flyer in Marseille, where Saliba impressed last term, as the Portuguese full-back has three goals in eight matches.
Matt Turner and Marquinhos aside, Seaman has hailed Saliba as effectively a fourth major signing for Arsenal this summer, despite the fact he was snapped up from Saint-Etienne back in 2019. The iconic stopper, who made 564 appearances for Arsenal between 1990 and 2003, also delved into the Gunners’ other transfer business.
“We’ve got [Gabriel] Jesus who’s a proven player, that’s the beauty of signing him,” he added. “We went out and got a proven player. Someone who’s played in the Premier League and knows what it’s all about. [Oleksandr] Zinchenko is exactly the same. These guys are used to winning trophies.
“In [Fabio] Vieira, we’ve got a guy who’s developing really well. The fourth one, even though he’s not really a signing, is Saliba. It’s incredible what he’s been doing. Saliba has really shocked me because it just shows you how going out on loan works. He’s been out on loan for a few seasons, got really good experience and when you watch him now, you think he must be about 27 because he looks so confident.”
Alongside coaching Arsenal’s young goalkeepers, Seaman stars alongside fellow England legend Paul Gascoigne in a newly-released YouTube fishing show, produced by Fishing Republic, which can be seen here. “It was great to get Gazza out,” he said. “He loves his fishing.
“We’ve been fishing together for a long time. We’ve been on England duty, he’s fallen in lakes, we’ve chased photographers away. I just wanted people to see the side to him that I see quite a lot – a Gazza that enjoys getting out there and not acting up all the time, just being normal.”
The former Gunners stopper has also interviewed Gazza, along with the likes of Glenn Hoddle and Gary Lineker, on his podcast, Seaman Says.