Arsenal: Nice’s William Saliba is ‘smart’ and ‘NOT punishment’, Bacary Sagna claims

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A nice loan is ‘smart’ and ‘NOT punishment’ for William Saliba, Bacary Sagna claims … as the former Arsenal defender backs a £ 27 million center-back to adjust to the Premier League after a return period in France.

  • William Saliba has yet to act for Arsenal since £ 27million has moved from Saint Etienne
  • He was loaned to the Ligue 1 squad all last season before returning
  • However, 20-year-old Saliba remained outside the selection of Arsenal for the first half of this term
  • He returned to France with Nice in January and played for them 14 times
  • Ex-gunman Bacary Sagna believes the move to get him out on loan was ‘smart’

William Saliba’s move to Nice in January was ‘smart’ for Arsenal and not a form of punishment for the defender, according to former club star Bacary Sagna.

The 20-year-old center-back has yet to appear for The Gunners’ first team in a competitive match schedule since sealing a £ 27 million move from Saint Etienne in 2019.

The France Under-20 international spent all last season with the Ligue 1 side as part of the deal, but after returning to North London, he was excluded from Mikel Arteta’s Premier League and Europa League teams for the first half of the current season – and he vented his accident in public.

William Saliba has yet to play for Arsenal's first team and is on loan to Nice

Former Arsenal right-back Sagna won the 2014 FA Cup

Former Arsenal right-back Sagna won the 2014 FA Cup

William Saliba has yet to play for Arsenal’s first team and is on loan to Nice (left); but the move wasn’t a punishment, according to former shooter Bacary Sagna (right)

Saliba spent all of last season at Saint Etienne as part of his £ 27 million move to Arsenal

Saliba spent all of last season at Saint Etienne as part of his £ 27 million move to Arsenal

Saliba spent all of last season at Saint Etienne as part of his £ 27 million move to Arsenal

That saw Saliba relegated to appearing for the Arsenal U23’s before sealing a move to France, where he played 14 games so far under Adrian Ursea.

But talk to Goal, the former Arsenal Sagna right-back believes it was ‘smart’ for the club to get him out on loan and expects him to adapt to the Premier League in the future.

“I’m not surprised because he has joined the best league in the world,” said ex-Manchester City and French defender Sagna.

‘Being good in France is completely different from proving yourself in the Premier League. I still have faith in him, I think he is a good player and he can adapt to Arsenal as I have seen him play many times.

But the central defender remained out of the selection of Mikel Arteta for the first half of this season

But the central defender remained out of the selection of Mikel Arteta for the first half of this season

But the central defender remained out of the selection of Mikel Arteta for the first half of this season

‘He’s doing well at Nice and has probably been their best player. You have to play at that age. He has great potential and people in France know that.

“Sending him away isn’t bad, it’s not punishment. For me it is smart to send him [on loan] instead of sitting on the couch or not even in the squad. ‘

Sagna himself was brought to England in 2007 by former Gunners boss Arsene Wenger after playing for France’s Auxerre.

The 20-year-old had to play for the U23's before sealing a return to France in January

The 20-year-old had to play for the U23's before sealing a return to France in January

The 20-year-old had to play for the U23’s before sealing a return to France in January

The 38-year-old won the 2014 FA Cup with current Arsenal boss Arteta, but left on a free transfer to Man City that same summer.

But while Sagna claimed that Saliba was not punished by being forcibly loaned out by his former teammate, the young center-back took a different view last month.

Speaking to RMC, the Nice Player of the Month for January claimed that Arteta ‘judged me on two and a half matches’ and ‘told me I wasn’t ready’.

He also complained that he was ‘locked up’ by Arteta when commenting on a social media post by Matteo Guendouzi, who is on loan to Hertha Berlin.

Sagna was Arteta's teammate at Arsenal and the duo won the FA Cup together in 2014

Sagna was Arteta's teammate at Arsenal and the duo won the FA Cup together in 2014

Sagna was Arteta’s teammate at Arsenal and the duo won the FA Cup together in 2014

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