Arsenal defender Saliba admits Arteta '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, 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 mid-week 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

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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