William Saliba has slammed Arsenal over his lack of playing time and admits he was “hurt” by the whole episode.
The Frenchman was signed for an astonishing £27million from St. Etienne in 2019 but was loaned back to the club last season.
It was thought Saliba would play a more pivotal role at Arsenal during this campaign, but he did not even get a look-in under manager Mikel Arteta.
The Gunners’ boss insisted Saliba needed a “transition year” elsewhere, and the centre-back has since been farmed out on loan again, this time to Nice until the summer.
But Saliba’s latest comments suggest he would not be too bothered about returning to Arsenal when his loan spell reaches its expiry.
The 19-year-old told TV station TF1 : “I really, really, really didn’t think that I would be transferred for €30m.
“To think that I would arrive [at Arsenal], where people were expecting a lot from me, the fans excited about me and you find yourself in the reserves, play zero – nothing in the Europa League or the [Premier] League.
“I was in the squad once in the League Cup. It hurt me, it affected me.
“I don’t think I left too early. When you feel ready you have to go. These things happen. I believe in myself.”
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Saliba hailed his switch to Nice as the “best decision” he could have made, where he feels playing consistently again is proving vital to his development.
Things had begun to turn sour for the defender in north London.
So much so that he described his situation at the club as feeling like he was “locked up” in a message to fellow Arsenal exile Matteo Guendouzi.
What should Arsenal do about Saliba’s future? Have your say below.
Arteta has already shown he doesn’t suffer fools gladly, and is prepared to ship out anyone who is not part of his vision for the club.
Pressed on whether he can see his future back at Arsenal, Saliba replied: “I don’t know. I have learned now that it is better not to look too far in the future.
“I am focused on just these 6 months to try to give absolutely everything and for the rest we will see.”