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Arsenal defender William Saliba admits Mikel Arteta ‘immediately told me I was not ready’

Arsenal defender William Saliba admits Mikel Arteta ‘immediately told me I was not ready’ and expresses disappointment at not being given a first-team shot after Nice loan move

  • William Saliba made his debut for Nice in mid-week after leaving Arsenal on loan 
  • The 19-year-old starlet is yet to make a senior appearance after his £27m move 
  • Mikel Arteta told Saliba he was ‘not ready’ immediately, the defender admitted 
  • Saliba has now expressed frustration at his lack of game time at the Emirates 

Arsenal defender William Saliba has insisted he would have liked ‘to have had a chance’ to prove himself after Mikel Arteta told him straight away he was ‘not ready’.

The 19-year-old, signed from Saint-Etienne in the summer of 2019 for £27million, is yet to make a senior appearance in England and was again deemed not ready for first-team action. 

And after returning to France for the season at Nice, Saliba has expressed his frustration at a lack of opportunities over the past year.

William Saliba has expressed his frustration at not being handed first-team action with Arsenal

‘The coach immediately told me that I was not ready,’ he said on Friday. ‘I would have at least liked to have had a chance to rediscover my rhythm.

‘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.’

Saliba, 19, is yet to make a senior appearance at the Emirates after his £27million move from Saint-Etienne

Mikel Arteta deemed Saliba 'not ready' and opted to ship him out on loan again this season

Saliba, 19, was immediately deemed not ready by Mikel Arteta and shipped out on loan to Nice

Saliba’s short-term switch to Nice, initially a six-month loan deal, was completed earlier this week.

His debut came in a 2-0 defeat by Brest on Wednesday – although the Arsenal youngster’s quick feet caught the eye in the centre of a back three. 

His frustrating spell in the Premier League meant that his piece of action in midweek was his first for almost a whole year.

Arsenal sealed the permanent deal for Saliba a year and a half ago and allowed him to see out the previous campaign with Saint-Etienne before crossing the channel.

After returning to France, Saliba made his debut for Nice in their 2-0 defeat by Brest this week

After returning to France, Saliba made his debut for Nice in their 2-0 defeat by Brest this week

In the wake of his first showing back in his home country, Saliba expressed confidence he would be able to re-find his form sooner rather than later. 

He added: ‘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.

‘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.’


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