William Saliba has revealed his frustration at failing to get an opportunity to impress in Arsenal’s first team and confirmed hinted he will assess his future at the end of his loan spell with Nice.
Much was expected of the teenage defender following his return to Arsenal in the summer after he had spent the 2019/20 campaign with Saint-Etienne.
The 19-year-old was, however, deemed not ready for the rigours of Premier League football by Mikel Arteta and is yet to make his first team debut for the Gunners, despite having joined the club in a £27million deal over 18 months ago.
Saliba will spend the remainder of the current campaign with Nice and made his debut in Wednesday’s 2-0 defeat by Brest. Arteta insists the highly-rated centre-half remains in his long-term plans but Saliba admits he was disappointed not to have been given an opportunity to prove his credentials at his parent club.
He said: ‘My first six months (at Arsenal) were difficult, because I was coming from six months where I wasn’t able to train because I was at home (because of the pandemic), and couldn’t train outside, couldn’t play.
‘I arrived there as they were finishing the leagues 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 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.
‘I have signed a 6 month contract, after these 6 months we will see what happens. But for now I have signed for 6 months, I am going to give my all, and then we will see.’
Speaking at his pre-match press conference ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup tie against Newcastle, meanwhile, Arteta insisted the decision to loan Saliba out was based on his desire to protect the youngster and ensure he is up to speed in time for pre-season,
‘He is going to a really strong league as well, a league he knows really well, he has experience [there] and he needs to play as many games as possible to be ready for us from next season.
‘He will come back for pre-season and he will be with us, and hopefully he will come back after playing a number of games and [with] his performances raising and his development progressing in the right way. That is why we made that decision.’