It’s been a tough few months for William Saliba at Arsenal, barely getting a look-in under Mikel Arteta and spending much of his time playing for the Under-23s.
The 19-year-old joined the Gunners in the summer of 2019 for £27million but was loaned back to Saint-Etienne for the remainder of the season.
He then arrived at the Emirates Stadium last summer to much fanfare, and it was hoped that he’d stake a claim for a first-team place, challenging the likes of David Luiz, Shkodran Mustafi, and Rob Holding at centre-back.
This didn’t turn out to be the case, with Arteta having other ideas, and in search of first-team football, Saliba completed a loan move to Nice earlier in the week.
He went straight into the starting XI for Wednesday evening’s Ligue 1 game away at Brest, where he played the full 90 minutes in a 2-0 defeat.
Admittedly, Saliba didn’t have the best of times early on in the game, picking up a 11th-minute booking – somewhat harshly – for a late tackle as he overran the ball while attempting to dribble out from the back.
He was also unlucky for Brest’s opener as a tight VAR call went against him as he tried to catch Steven Mounie offside, while a sloppy back pass caught him out, with no time to recover as Franck Honorat doubled the home side’s lead.
Despite these issues – rustiness, perhaps – Saliba also showed some very encouraging signs, with Nice praising the player on social media by noting he made the most successful passes and won the ball back more often than anybody else.
L’Equipe, meanwhile, gave Saliba the highest rating out of all the Nice players:
Now, here is what some Arsenal fans made of the Gunners loanee’s debut: