Phil Egan
Phil Egan

12.55 9 Feb 2021


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William Saliba believes Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta was too quick to judge him before he was sent out on loan in January.

The 19-year-old French defender joined the Gunners from Saint-Etienne in 2019 for a fee of €30 million but was loaned back to the French club straight away.

The Lique 1 season was cut short in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and Saliba was set to spend another season on loan in France but Arsenal could not come to an agreement with Saint-Etienne.

There was a sense that Saliba would be given some game time under Arteta but the Arsenal boss decided the teenager was not ready to play in the first team and failed to include him in the Premier League and Europa League squads.

Saliba moved on loan to Nice in January and since then has played seven games for the French outfit.

That should be encouraging for Arsenal fans but Saliba was afraid to let his feelings be known about a lack of opportunities in an interview he did with RMC.

"It is clear that so much has changed in the last year," Saliba said.

"When I saw that the coach changed, a lot changed for me too. In this year there has been a lot of change.

"He judged me on two-and-a-half matches. I would have liked for him to play me more. But he told me I wasn’t ready.

"I was waiting for him to give me a chance, but football is like that. When I initially came to Arsenal the league looked very good so I showed up to training and wanted to train on my own to show the coach I was ready.

"I am happy now, I want to play for Nice. The idea when you’re part of a team is a better feeling for me."

Arteta had settled on a back four with Rob Holding and David Luiz as his two preferred central defenders in recent weeks before Luiz was sent off in the defeat to Wolves.

The Arsenal manager was asked about Saliba when he completed his move to Nice.

"We signed a big project that we had some issues with because he hasn’t played enough football in the last eighteen months.

"At that age and in the development phase he is at that is crucial. And I was very conscious when he came back, when he didn’t do the step that he had to do before joining us that to start a relationship with a new manager, with a new club, with new team-mates in a situation where he is not having any game time it’s really difficult and I think it’s really damaging for the future."


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Arsenal Ligue 1 Mikel Arteta Nice Premier League Saint-Etienne William Saliba

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