Premier League giants Arsenal have this evening confirmed the loan departure of William Saliba, who has returned to his home country for a stint with OGC Nice.
Saliba’s Arsenal stint has of course proven somewhat bizarre to this point.
The now-19-year-old was purchased from Saint-Etienne in the summer of 2019, before being immediately loaned back to the Ligue 1 outfit, to gain further first-team experience.
The general assumption, though, was that Saliba would return to the Emirates this year, ahead of playing a central role in Mikel Arteta’s first-team setup – the Gunners did, after all, splash out a reported £27 million on the youngster.
In turn, Saliba, as expected, went on make the move back to north London during the summer.
Surprisingly, however, he subsequently struggled to secure any sort of consistent game-time. In fact, the Frenchman was not afforded a single appearance for Arsenal’s first-team to this point in the campaign.
Instead, Saliba was restricted to outings with the club’s youth sides, having surprisingly been completely omitted from Mikel Arteta’s Europa League group stage squad.
Arteta, in turn, went on to express his regret at Saliba’s situation late last year, admitting that it ‘hurt’ him to leave the youngster out:
‘I feel really bad for William Saliba. Because we had so many central defenders, we decided to leave him out of the squad which was really hurtful for me to do.’
Word stemming from the media over the weeks and months which followed, however, certainly appeared to suggest that the attempts of his manager to smooth over the situation had not had much impact in easing Saliba’s disappointment.
In fact, just last week, it was claimed that the door had been opened to a potential permanent Emirates exit for the gifted youngster.
A meeting between Arsenal & William Saliba last week saw both parties agree to be open to accepting both permanent & loan departure opportunities this month, according to L’Équipe.
— Get French Football News (@GFFN) January 1, 2021
And, as outlined above, a departure from north London has, in turn, tonight been confirmed.
If the accompanying statement on the part of the club is anything to go by, however, then, as things stand at least, Saliba looks set to have a future in the English capital.
Taking to social media a short time ago, Arsenal announced that their big-money defender has joined French outfit OGC Nice on loan for the 2nd-half of the campaign.
The post, though, also included a message from technical director Edu Gaspar, in which the Brazilian was quick to reassure fans of Mikel Arteta’s men that Saliba will go on to ‘have a great career’ with the club:
‘William Saliba is a player with a huge amount of talent and potential. We’re confident he will have a great career with us but we must remember that he is still only 19 years old and has a lot of time ahead of him.’
‘William experienced a very challenging time last year, with his playing time limited by injury and the early ending of the Ligue 1 season due to the pandemic.’
‘So together with William, we have decided that spending the rest of the season on loan with Nice is the best way for him to develop. We will be keeping in close contact with William during his time with Nice and look forward to seeing him make good progress until the end of the season.’
🗞 William Saliba has joined Ligue 1 side Nice on loan for the remainder of the season
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) January 4, 2021
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|2||Manchester United FC||16||9||33|
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|4||Tottenham Hotspur FC||16||14||29|
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|7||Aston Villa FC||15||13||26|
|10||West Ham United FC||17||3||26|
|13||Wolverhampton Wanderers FC||17||-6||22|
|14||Crystal Palace FC||17||-7||22|
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|17||Brighton & Hove Albion FC||17||-7||14|
|19||West Bromwich Albion||17||-28||8|
|20||Sheffield United FC||17||-21||2|
|Salah, Mohamed||Liverpool FC||13|
|Son, Heung Min||Tottenham Hotspur FC||12|
|Fernandes, Bruno||Manchester United FC||11|
|Vardy, Jamie||Leicester City FC||11|
|Calvert-Lewin, Dominic||Everton FC||11|
|Kane, Harry||Tottenham Hotspur FC||10|
|Bamford, Patrick||Leeds United||10|
|Zaha, Wilfried||Crystal Palace FC||8|
|Wilson, Callum||Newcastle United FC||8|
|Rashford, Marcus||Manchester United FC||7|
|Ings, Danny||Southampton FC||7|
|Lacazette, Alexandre||Arsenal FC||7|
|Mane, Sadio||Liverpool FC||6|
|Watkins, Ollie||Aston Villa FC||6|
|Maupay, Neal||Brighton & Hove Albion FC||6|
|Abraham, Tammy||Chelsea FC||6|
|Grealish, Jack||Aston Villa FC||5|
|Firmino, Roberto||Liverpool FC||5|
|Barnes, Harvey||Leicester City FC||5|
|Soucek, Tomas||West Ham United FC||5|
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|Dunk, Lewis||Brighton & Hove Albion FC||1||4|
|Phillips, Kalvin||Leeds United||0||5|
|Cash, Matty||Aston Villa FC||0||5|
|Gallagher, Conor||West Bromwich Albion||0||5|
|Evans, Jonny||Leicester City FC||0||5|
|Kante, N`Golo||Chelsea FC||0||5|
|Milivojevic, Luka||Crystal Palace FC||1||4|
|Egan, John||Sheffield United FC||1||4|
|Hayden, Isaac||Newcastle United FC||0||5|
|Grealish, Jack||Aston Villa FC||0||4|
|Ward-Prowse, James||Southampton FC||0||4|
|Klich, Mateusz||Leeds United||0||4|
|McGinn, John||Aston Villa FC||0||4|
|Reid, Bobby||Fulham FC||0||4|
|Tielemans, Youri||Leicester City FC||0||4|
|Doucoure, Abdoulaye||Everton FC||0||4|
|Mings, Tyrone||Aston Villa FC||0||3|
|Kane, Harry||Tottenham Hotspur FC||11|
|Fernandes, Bruno||Manchester United FC||7|
|Grealish, Jack||Aston Villa FC||7|
|De Bruyne, Kevin||Manchester City FC||7|
|Son, Heung Min||Tottenham Hotspur FC||5|
|Robertson, Andrew||Liverpool FC||5|
|Vardy, Jamie||Leicester City FC||4|
|Rashford, Marcus||Manchester United FC||4|
|Ward-Prowse, James||Southampton FC||4|
|Werner, Timo||Chelsea FC||4|
|Adams, Che||Southampton FC||4|
|Harrison, Jack||Leeds United||4|
|Chilwell, Benjamin||Chelsea FC||4|
|McGinn, John||Aston Villa FC||4|
|Cresswell, Aaron||West Ham United FC||4|
|Digne, Lucas||Everton FC||4|
|Salah, Mohamed||Liverpool FC||3|
|Ings, Danny||Southampton FC||3|
|Firmino, Roberto||Liverpool FC||3|
|Sterling, Raheem||Manchester City FC||3|