The narrative has been well and truly thrown out of the window.
12 months ago, Arsenal fans sat anxiously in wait for defensive saviour, William Saliba, to come to north London full-time, slot straight into the starting lineup and forge part of the division’s best defence.
Here we are now and it could well be that he’s playing second tier English football.
I previously suggested that him moving away this window on another loan would not constitute a failure on his, or the club’s part. At least not the current regime. Saliba was coveted across Europe one year ago, highlighted as one of the continent’s most admired and sought after prospects.
Spurs wanted him, as did others, but the English team he grew up supporting won the race.
A devastating family bereavement has not helped him settle into life at Arsenal, while the overall standard that Mikel Arteta has set is currently one step above where he is in his development.
A loan to former club Saint-Étienne fell through on deadline day, so his time with the Gunners will continue. That appeared so, although with the domestic window in England remaining open, Arsenal are now thought to be open to loaning him to a Championship club.
A far cry from top-flight French football, it could seriously knock his confidence for six. Just 19 years old, he’s become familiar with his new teammates and surroundings, but may now be plying his trade in the north where he best get ready for a culture shock.
Yet he simply must play football. It’s become clear that won’t happen with Arsenal this season. While learning and absorbing Arteta’s way at London Colney may be beneficial, it can’t be overstated just how vital regular football is for someone his age.
There will be suitors lining up to prize him away for the season, but ensuring it’s the right move for his development is absolutely paramount. It has to be a club challenging at the top end. One with the right coaching staff to help evolve his game, but equally provide the platform for him to express his own talents.
I wouldn’t mind seeing him join someone a club in the vein of Swansea, Reading or Brentford. Perhaps even Watford given the our training ground sits adjacent to theirs. Whichever club that is, however, will have to want Saliba. It has to be right.