William Saliba has revealed his frustration at failing to get a chance to impress at Arsenal and hinted he will assess his future at the end of his loan spell with French Ligue 1 side Nice.
Much was expected of the player after his return to Arsenal in the summer window after he spent the 2019/20 season with Saint-Etienne.
However, the defender was deemed not ready for the Premier League by Mikel Arteta and is yet to make his debut for Arsenal, despite having joined the gunners in a £27m deal over 18 months ago.
Saliba will spend the rest of the current campaign with Nice and even made his debut in Wednesday’s 2-0 defeat against Brest.
Arteta says the centre-half remains in his long-term plans but Saliba concedes he was disappointed not to have been given a chance to prove himself at his parent club.
He said: ‘My first six months (at Arsenal) were difficult, because I was coming from six months where I wasn’t able to train because I was at home (because of the pandemic), and couldn’t train outside, couldn’t play.
‘I arrived there as they were finishing the leagues 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.
- Wilfried Zaha slams Arsenal for signing Nicolas Pepe ahead of him
- Amad Diallo speaks out & reveals first photo in Man Utd shirt after £36m move
‘The coach 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.
‘I have signed a 6 month contract, after these 6 months we will see what happens. But for now I have signed for 6 months, I am going to give my all, and then we will see.’
Speaking ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup tie against Newcastle, Arteta said: ‘I want to protect the player that we signed and the future we have alongside him and the best way to do that is to give him minutes to play. He has been really good, it has been a difficult few months for him to cope with that situation but I see the development that he has made, the progression that he has shown over the months and now he is ready to compete.
‘He is going to a really strong league as well, a league he knows really well, he has experience [there] and he needs to play as many games as possible to be ready for us from next season.
‘He will come back for pre-season and he will be with us, and hopefully he will come back after playing a number of games and [with] his performances raising and his development progressing in the right way. That is why we made that decision.’