‘I wanted my chance at Arsenal’ – Saliba frustrated by Arteta attitude

Robin Bairner
Robin Bairner Updated: 19 May 2021 15:43 BST 3 min read
‘I wanted my chance at Arsenal’ – Saliba frustrated by Arteta attitude

Arsenal defender William Saliba has spoken of his frustration that he was not afforded a chance under Mikel Arteta before being shipped to Nice on loan.

Saliba signed for the Gunners in the summer of 2019 but was never able to make his top-team debut at the Emirates Stadium.

He spent last term on loan at Saint-Etienne but was hampered by injury and the early finish of the Ligue 1 season due to the Covid-19 crisis.

He completed a loan move to Nice on Tuesday after being frozen out in London.

Arteta cited that the 19-year-old lacked the experience to play for Arsenal’s first team and did not include him in the Premier League squad for the 2020/21 season.

After close to a year without competitive football, Saliba finds himself at Nice.

“The coach immediately told me that I was not ready. I would have at least liked to have had a chance to rediscover my rhythm,” he told the media.

“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 and couldn’t train outside, couldn’t play.

“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.”

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    Now, the young centre-back has not ruled out a longer stay on the Cote d’Azur.

    “I have signed a six-month contract. After these six months we will see what happens. But for now I have signed for six months, I am going to give my all, and then we will see,” he explained.

    Saliba made his Nice debut 24 hours after arriving at the club in a 2-0 defeat to Brest. He struggled early in the fixture but grew in stature as it wore on.

    “What’s for sure is that I was coming from Arsenal U23s, and what is for sure is that the rhythm at professional level and U23 level is not the same,” he explained. “I wanted to play and I trained so hard at Arsenal, that’s why the coach put me in directly on Wednesday. But certainly I had not played for a while and that has done me good.

    “Even though I’m young, I’ve come to be a leader.”

    Saliba will expected to be involved in Saturday’s Ligue 1 trip to Metz as Nice seek to improve their 13th position.

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