Arsenal defender William Saliba has criticised Mikel Arteta for failing to provide him with the chance to prove himself at the club. The 19-year-old sealed a temporary switch to Ligue 1 outfit Nice earlier this month after trying in vain to break into the first-team under the Spanish boss.
Saliba’s arrival at Arsenal at the start of last season was initially met with excitement from the club’s supporters, with many fans backing the youngster to feature at the heart of the club’s defence for years to come.
However, he is still yet to make a senior appearance for the Gunners.
The teenager was immediately shipped out on loan to former club Saint-Etienne, where he made 17 appearances in all competitions before coming back to Arsenal at the end of the campaign.
Speaking for the first time since joining Nice, Saliba hit out at Arteta regarding his reluctance to involve him in first-team affairs this season, claiming that he was informed of the 38-year-old’s decision not to consider him for selection very early on.
“The coach immediately told me that I was not ready,” said Saliba, as quoted by the Mirror. “I would have at least liked to have had a chance to rediscover my rhythm. But this is football, it’s like that.”
Arteta revealed on Thursday that he felt it would harm the defender’s development if he was to remain at Arsenal for the rest of the campaign with very little chance of playing.
“We signed a big project that we had some issues with because he hasn’t played enough football in the last eighteen months,” said Arteta.
“At that age and in the development phase he is at that is crucial.
“And I was very conscious when he came back, when he didn’t do the step that he had to do before joining us that to start a relationship with a new manager, with a new club, with new team-mates in a situation where he is not having any game time it’s really difficult and I think it’s really damaging for the future.”
“He will come back for pre-season and he will be with us. Hopefully he will come back after playing a number of games and his performance raising and his development progressing in the right way. That’s why we made that decision.”
The Gunners could be set to benefit from the first-team return of summer signing Thomas Partey, who is in contention to feature after recovering from a troublesome thigh injury that has kept him out of action since the beginning of November.