Former Arsenal right-back Bacary Sagna has had his say on Mikel Arteta’s treatment of his compatriot and fellow defender William Saliba.
The former Saint-Etienne man came back to Arsenal last summer but didn’t get any game time. He only played for the reserves and Arteta sent him out on loan in January to Nice, much to the frustration of Gunners supporters.
Saliba has been brilliant for Nice over the last three months. He has been one of their best players, but there are growing fears around the Emirates that the Frenchman might not be in Arteta’s long-term plans.
Sagna, however, has backed the Arsenal boss. He claimed that sending Saliba on loan in January was a ‘clever’ move as the Frenchman was not aggressive enough for the Premier League.
Sagna: Sending Saliba out on loan was a clever move
He told Goal: “I’m not surprised because he has joined the best league in the world. 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.
“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.
“I’m watching games and maybe he needs to be a bit more aggressive. Be a leader, especially in his position. I don’t know if he speaks English. This could be a problem when you come to a new country, but you need to adapt fast, you don’t have time. Time is a luxury you don’t have when you come to a club like Arsenal because you have to play straight away.”
The Insider’s View:
Sagna is spot on.
Saliba came to Arsenal having not played for a number of months due to the football season ending early in France. He had a ton of personal problems to deal with as well, which made things even more difficult for him.
Arteta saw him in training everyday and realised that he wasn’t ready for the Premier League. He left the youngster out of his squad as a result, and sent him out on loan in January to give him the game time he needs to get to the level required.
Saliba has been very vocal about Arteta’s treatment over the past few months. He needs to play well at Nice, come back to Arsenal, work hard and earn the Arsenal boss’ trust. If he doesn’t, he will be sent out on loan again in the summer, which would really be a shame.