Saliba: I deserved a chance at Arsenal

On-loan Arsenal defender William Saliba seems to have taken something of a dig at manager Mikel Arteta, suggesting that he should have been offered more of an opportunity at his parent club.

Saliba completed a loan move to Ligue 1 side Nice earlier this week and made his debut in a 2-0 defeat against Brest on Wednesday.

It was his first competitive action in almost a year, and though he signed for Arsenal in the summer of 2019, he has yet to feature for the club, having spent last season on loan with Saint-Etienne.

Arteta has claimed that he was not ready for first-team football, but Saliba has argued that he should have been given a chance to prove himself.

“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 on Friday.

“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.”

Meanwhile, he has not ruled out a prolonged stay at Nice, with a suggestion that his loan deal could be extended from six to 18 months.

“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.

Additionally, he is confident of rediscovering his best level back in Ligue 1.

“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.”

Nice’s next match comes in Ligue 1 on Saturday versus Metz.