William Saliba has cast further doubt on his time at Arsenal by claiming he was judged by manager Mikel Arteta after just two-and-a-half matches before being loaned to Nice.
The 19-year-old joined Arsenal from Saint-Etienne in July 2019 for a reported £27million (€29.7m) fee and remained with the Ligue 1 side for the 2019-20 season.
He returned to Emirates Stadium ahead of this season but was surprisingly left out of Arsenal’s Europa League squad and did not make a single appearance in other competitions.
Saliba departed for Nice on loan last month for the remainder of the campaign and last week admitted to being “hurt” over his lack of playing time with Arsenal.
And the centre-back, who was brought to north London during Unai Emery’s time in charge, has now taken another apparent swipe at Arteta.
“It is clear that so much has changed in the last year,” Saliba told RMC. “When I saw that the coach changed, a lot changed for me too. In this year there has been a lot of change. He judged me on two-and-a-half matches.
— OGC Nice (@ogcnice_eng) January 17, 2021
“I would have liked for him to play me more. But he told me I wasn’t ready. I was waiting for him to give me a chance, but football is like that.
“When I initially came to Arsenal the league looked very good so I showed up to training and wanted to train on my own to show the coach I was ready.
“I am happy now, I want to play for Nice. The idea when you’re part of a team is a better feeling for me.”
Saliba has impressed during his short time back in France and was last week named Nice’s Player of the Month for January.
The France Under-20s international has started seven Ligue 1 games since joining last month, including the full 90 minutes of Sunday’s 3-0 win over Angers.
He led the way for Nice in that game for total passes (64), successful passes (58) and touches (82), while no player on the pitch cleared the ball more often (eight times).
Indeed, since making his Nice debut on January 6, only Jose Fonte (439), Steven Nzonzi (472), Sven Botman (487) and Marco Verratti (489) have completed more Ligue 1 passes than Saliba’s 437.