Nice loan move is ‘clever’ and ‘NOT a punishment’ for William Saliba, claims Bacary Sagna… as former Arsenal defender backs £27m centre-back to adapt to the Premier League after spell back in France
- William Saliba has yet to feature for Arsenal since £27m move from Saint Etienne
- He spent the whole of last season on loan at the Ligue 1 side before returning
- However, Saliba, 20, was left out of Arsenal’s squads for the first half of this term
- He returned to France with Nice in January and has played 14 times for them
- Ex-Gunner Bacary Sagna believes the move to send him out on loan was ‘clever’
William Saliba’s January loan move to Nice was ‘clever’ from Arsenal and not a form of punishment for the defender, according to former club star Bacary Sagna.
The 20-year-old centre-back has yet to feature for the Gunners first team in a competitive fixture since sealing a £27million move from Saint Etienne in 2019.
The France Under-20 international spent the whole of last season at the Ligue 1 side as part of the deal, but after returning to north London was left out of Mikel Arteta’s Premier League and Europa League squads for the first half of the current campaign – and he aired his unhappiness publicly.
William Saliba has yet to play for the Arsenal first-team and is on loan at Nice (left); but the move was not a punishment, according to former Gunner Bacary Sagna (right)
Saliba spent the whole of last season at Saint Etienne as part of his £27m move to Arsenal
That saw Saliba relegated to featuring for the Arsenal U23s before sealing a loan move back to France, where he has made 14 appearances so far under Adrian Ursea.
But speaking to Goal, former Arsenal right-back Sagna believes it was ‘clever’ from the club for him to head out on loan and expects him to adapt to the Premier League in the future.
‘I’m not surprised because he has joined the best league in the world,’ ex-Manchester City and France defender Sagna said.
‘Being good in France is totally different to proving himself in the Premier League. I still have trust in him, I think he is a good player and he can adapt to Arsenal because I’ve seen him play many times.
But the centre-back was left out of Mikel Arteta’s squads for the first half of this season
‘He is doing well at Nice and has probably been their best player. At that age you need to be playing. He has big potential and in France people know it.
‘Sending him away is not a bad thing, it’s not a punishment. To me it’s clever to send him [on loan] rather than him being on the bench or not even being in the squad.’
Sagna himself was brought to England by former Gunners boss Arsene Wenger in 2007 having starred for French side Auxerre.
The 20-year-old had to play for the U23s before sealing a return back to France in January
The 38-year-old won the 2014 FA Cup with current Arsenal boss Arteta, but left for Man City that same summer on a free transfer.
But while Sagna claimed Saliba was not punished by being forced out on loan by his former team-mate, the young central defender saw it differently last month.
Speaking to RMC, the Nice player of the month for January claimed Arteta ‘judged me on two-and-a-half matches’ and ‘told me I wasn’t ready’.
He also complained that he had been ‘locked up’ by Arteta while commenting on a social media post by Matteo Guendouzi, who has been exiled on loan to Hertha Berlin.
Sagna was Arteta’s team-mate at Arsenal and the duo won the FA Cup together in 2014