Former Arsenal defender Bacary Sagna has defended Mikel Arteta over his treatment of young centre-back William Saliba.
Big things were expected of the 20-year-old Frenchman at the start of this season, but Saliba is still yet to make his debut after seemingly failing to convince Arteta he is ready for first-team action.
He was sent on loan to Ligue 1 club Nice in January in order to gain further experience, and Gunners fans will be desperately hoping he can return to make an impact in the next campaign.
Speaking to Goal, Sagna admitted he was not surprised to see Saliba struggle in England – but still has faith he will come good in the future.
“I’m not surprised because he has joined the best league in the world,” 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.
“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.”
Sagna also believes Arteta has done the right thing in letting Saliba leave on loan, despite criticism from some of the way the Spaniard has dealt with the situation.
“Sending him away is not a bad thing, it’s not a punishment,” he continued. “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.”