Arsenal defender William Saliba was unveiled to the media today at OGC Nice after he joined them on loan until the end of the season.
The young French defender was expected by many to be the answer to all of our defensive problems. However, Mikel Arteta decided against giving him a chance with the first-team, and a loan move was thus the only logical option.
Saliba was asked why he didn’t get a chance at Arsenal following his big money move from Saint-Etienne. The youngster admitted that he lacked rhythm when he featured in a friendly against MK Dons in August, and that made Arteta decide he wasn’t ready.
He told GFFN: 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 (pandemic), 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.”
“The coach (Arteta) immediately told me that I was not ready. I would have at least liked to have a chance to rediscover my rhythm. But this is football, it’s like that.”
Arteta made the right decision
It would have been easy for Arteta to throw Saliba in the deep end just to give him a chance. A bad performance there would have exposed the youngster to over-the-top criticism from fans, pundits and the media, which would have had a negative impact.
Saliba is a tremendous talent. He has the potential to be one of the best defenders in world football one day. However, we must remember that he is still only 19 and is in a league that is extremely demanding.
A good six months at Nice will help Saliba massively. Arteta has reiterated that he wants the Frenchman back in the summer. That should be enough incentive for the young defender to impress everyone in the next few months.