For years, one of the biggest issues Arsenal has faced as a club is player development. Many young and talented players have come through the ranks, but have struggled to break through into the first-team. While Mikel Arteta has made a noticeable improvement on this front, it is by no means perfect at the moment. The William Saliba situation shows the double-edged sword nature of this.
So impressive was he at Marseille that Saliba is now keen to move on from the club – refusing to sign a new deal, per reports – so he can play as a starter elsewhere. This leaves Arsenal with a headache, in that a player they invested huge sums of money in was loaned out, not given a chance, and now looks keen to leave. They might face the same problem in the years to come with others.
One player they hope will have a more serene transition from loan to first team regular, though, is Auston Trusty. The player is expected to sign a loan deal with Birmingham City. Trusty signed in January, but was kept back in America with the Colorado Rapids. Now, the 23-year-old arrives in the country and will be loaned out to get experience of the English game.
He is not part of the USA tour squad, and will instead take in pre-season in the Midlands with Blues. It is an interesting loan choice, and one that could pay dividends years down the line if Trusty can land a position in the first-team down the line.
It will be a culture shock for the player, who has so far only played in the MLS, but he is highly rated by the club and by scouts. If the loan goes well, he could be part of the Arsenal first team as early as the 2023-24 season.
Arsenal repeating the same mistake as with Saliba?
Reports that Saliba wants out are not new, but they appear to be gathering pace. Therefore, are Arsenal making the same mistake with Trusty? Not likely.
For one, Saliba was signed for a huge fee and was seen as a prominent international class defender. Someone who could, in the right circumstances, become a mainstay for Arsenal. Instead, he has grown tired of waiting for a chance and wants to go somewhere he can be a regular first-team starter. That is totally fair, and probably means that Arsenal will have to sell.
Trusty, though, is more of a punt project signing – a low-cost, high-potential option that could pay off down the line. However, throwing a 23-year-old defender who only knows the MLS into the dog-eat-dog world of the Premier League could be a huge mistake.
Therefore, a loan makes much more sense. Blues can give him the chance to get regular game time ahead of joining up with the Arsenal pre-season team in 2023. For now, then, any comparisons with Trusty and Saliba are at best fanciful.