Arsenal should be resisting any urge to send William Saliba out on a loan deal that “makes no sense”, says Kevin Campbell, with Mikel Arteta told to give the youngster Shkodran Mustafi’s minutes.
A highly-rated 19-year-old defender finally arrived at Emirates Stadium over the summer.
A £27 million ($37m) agreement had been reached with Saint-Etienne 12 months earlier, with the Gunners moving quickly to buy into the potential of a hot prospect.
Big things were expected of Saliba in north London, with plenty suggesting that he would slot seamlessly into the fold.
He is, however, still waiting on a competitive debut as Arteta continues to favour other options.
A lack of game time has sparked inevitable talk of a move being made elsewhere, with it suggested that the youngster could be allowed to link up with a Championship team in January.
Campbell remains baffled by said rumours, especially as the Gunners continue to struggle in their efforts to plug leaks at the back.
For him, Saliba should be eased into the fold over the remainder of the season, with there little value to be found in freezing him out and favouring German centre-half Mustafi – with the World Cup winner running his contract down towards free agency in 2021.
Former Arsenal striker Campbell told Football Insider: “Apparently Saliba has made great strides in training.
“Mustafi is going to leave at the end of the season, that is a done deal from both sides, and Saliba needs minutes, so why not give him the minutes that Mustafi is getting?
“To me it makes no sense. I like to think Arteta would use Saliba in the Europa League and FA Cup games we have coming up rather than sending him out on loan.”
Mustafi has taken in seven appearances for the Gunners this season, with five of those coming in continental competition.
Arsenal have booked their place in the last-32 of the Europa League, where they will face Benfica, and are also into the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup.
Opportunities will present themselves to give Saliba the game time he needs and craves in his ongoing development.
Arteta has, however, taken to overlooking a number of players this season, with Mesut Ozil being the most prominent, and it remains to be seen what the new year holds for a player with considerable potential.