William Saliba: ‘Mikel Arteta immediately told me I’m not ready’ for place in Arsenal defence

Centre-back, 19, joined Nice on loan this month

Alex Pattle
Friday 08 January 2021 14:53 GMT
Arteta discusses FA Cup win and January ins and outs ahead of Newcastle

William Saliba has claimed he was not given the opportunity to fight for a place in Arsenal’s defence before being sent out on loan this month.

The 19-year-old this week joined Nice until the end of the season, but he has admitted that his preference would have been to prove his worth to manager Mikel Arteta in north London.

“The coach immediately told me that I was not ready,” Saliba is reported as saying at his first press conference since joining Nice.

READ MORE: Darkness of Ozil exit shouldn’t overshadow midfielder’s illuminating career

 “I would have at least liked to have had a chance to rediscover my rhythm. 

“But this is football, it’s like that.”

Saliba started for the Ligue 1 club just 48 hours after joining from Arsenal. The centre-back was booked as his new team lost 2-0 to Brest in the French top flight, conceding both goals before half-time.

Arsenal signed French youth international Saliba from Saint-Etienne in 2019 and immediately loaned him back to the Ligue 1 side. He is yet to make a senior appearance for the Gunners. 

“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 [due to the pandemic], and couldn’t train outside, couldn’t play,” Saliba said during his Nice unveiling.

“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.”

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in