William Saliba and Gabriel Magalhaes are both ‘lucky’ to have David Luiz around them as they settle into life at Arsenal, according to Mikel Arteta.
The two young centre-backs both arrived in north London this summer, with Saliba linking up with his new team-mates following his season-long loan from Saint-Etienne and while Gabriel joined in a £25 million ($33m) move from Lille.
The latter has made an immediate impact, scoring on his debut in the 3-0 win against Fulham and impressing in his battle with Michail Antonio as West Ham were beaten 2-1 on Saturday night.
Saliba meanwhile has yet to feature in the Premier League, but is expected to be involved when a much changed Gunners side take on Leicester City on Wednesday night in the Carabao Cup third round.
Both Gabriel and Saliba are viewed as players with real by potential by Arsenal, but at just 22 and 19 years old respectively, Arteta knows they still have much to learn.
That’s why he believes having a player alongside them such as the 33-year-old Luiz, who has won titles wherever he has played and has 57 caps for his country, will be hugely beneficial for their development.
“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,” said Arteta. “I think they are lucky to have him around.”
Having not made the squad for Arsenal’s opening two league games of the season, Saliba is expected to play some part when the Gunners visit Leicester on Wednesday night in the Carabao Cup.
The centre-back's omission from Arteta’s first two squads came as a surprise to many, especially with Sokratis, Shkodran Mustafi, Calum Chambers and Pablo Mari all currently sidelined by injury, but Arteta says the teenager, who made just 15 appearances for Saint-Etienne last season due to injury, needs to be given time to adapt to his new home.
“I think William is doing really well,” said the Arsenal boss.
“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 is set to ring the changes for Wednesday night’s game, with the majority of the players who have started Arsenal’s opening two league games expected to be rested.
That could see the likes of Nicolas Pepe, Reiss Nelson and Eddie Nketiah given starts, with Joe Willock and Mohamed Elneny also tipped to feature. New signing Runar Alex Runarsson, who completed his £1m ($1.3m) move from Dijon on Monday, is in contention to start in goal.
Yet despite giving so many of his big-hitters the night off, Arteta insists Arsenal will be taking the Carabao Cup seriously this season.
“We are going to take it seriously, that is for sure,” said the Spaniard.
“Obviously with the fixtures we have, the number of games, it is very difficult, but we have to go day by day, let’s see what position we are in to try and put out the strongest possible team to try and win it.”
Arteta added: “The last few seasons I think this competition for the clubs has raised (in importance), there is only one winner in the Premier League. That leaves a lot of frustrated clubs and now everybody wants a title. You can see in the last few years that teams have used strong line-ups and the types of finals we have seen in recent years.”