William Saliba has admitted that Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta told him he wasn’t ready for first team football, before the club decided to loan him to Nice.
The centre-back joined the French side on loan for the remainder of the season, after failing to make a single Premier League appearance for the Gunners.
Saliba returned to Arsenal in the summer after a season loan spell at Saint-Etienne last year, and the 19-year-old was expected to compete for a place in Arteta’s first team plans this campaign.
But despite a series of injuries in defence, Saliba was still not given a chance and Arsenal have now allowed the defender to return to France to gain more experience.
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And Saliba has now opened up on his frustrations of not being allowed an opportunity to stake his claim for a place.
“My first six months were difficult, because I was coming from six months where I wasn’t able to train because I was at home (pandemic), and couldn’t train outside, couldn’t play,” he said at his official unveiling to the press, via GFFN.
“I arrived there as they were finishing the league season, so I was training alone. As soon as they came back from holidays, we quickly had the first friendly matches where I lacked rhythm and was a bit insufficient physically.
“The coach [Arteta] immediately told me that I was not ready. I would have at least liked to have a chance to rediscover my rhythm. But this is football, it’s like that.”
Gunners technical director Edu previously admitted that the centre-back still needs time to develop before he is ready for Premier League football, and urged supporters to be patient.
“Maybe he needs a little more time,” Edu told supporters at a fans forum meeting last month.
“He’s a bright talent. We need to talk with him and Mikel to plan for next year.”