One month has passed since William Saliba moved from Arsenal to Nice on loan for the rest of the season and during his spell in France, so far, it has been a successful return for the 19-year-old.
Due to unprecedented circumstances, it had been a difficult first season away from France for Saliba. During the January transfer window, there was interest in the Frenchman from a host of clubs in the Premier League, Championship and across Europe too.
He ended up returning to France with eyes on regular game time, which Nice were willing to offer the young central defender.
Last weekend was a big moment for the Arsenal loanee as he was named Nice’s Player of the Month on Saturday and kept a clean sheet in a 3-0 win against Angers a day later.
He was partnered alongside Barcelona loanee Jean-Clair Todibo for just the second time in the French side’s 3-0 victory over Angers and the two youngsters complemented each other perfectly.
The Arsenal loanee, who has enjoyed a strong start to life at Nice, has looked even better when played in a back four with Todibo. The Nice backline dealt with its fair share of challenges earlier in the month possibly due to the language barrier between Saliba, Daniliuc, who is Austrian, and Bambu who is Brazilian, according to Get French Football News.
Against Angers, Saliba was up against a lone striker and his manager’s instruction to him was to sit deep and start moves by playing out from the back just how Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta would like to develop him when he returns to London.
The 19-year-old is a right-sided ball-playing centre back and looks set to thrive for the North London club whenever Arteta decides he is ready to play for the side. As things stand, the Frenchman himself does not know what is next for him after his loan spell with Nice ends, according to Get French Football News.
Despite the critics on social media, Arteta’s man-management of Saliba has been perfect. The Spaniard has avoided throwing him into the deep end this season and made him play football for the Under-23 side until the club found a suitable solution.
Those who believe that Arteta has halted the growth of the man who has been referred to as the “Mbappe of centre backs” would be wrong to claim that as the only thing the Arsenal manager has done is monitor Saliba’s personal life and find the best possible solution for a player who has gone through a lot in this past year.
Arteta came up with a plan with technical director Edu Gaspar to send Saliba out on loan but the Gunners wanted it to be somewhere that was beneficial to the player’s development. After shortlisting a few possibilities, they decided that returning to France would not only develop the player but also allow him to return to his comfort zone.
The Spaniard has received too much criticism for what is perceived to be poor man-management skills but if it were not for Arteta, Saliba would still be out of the first team and would be low on confidence playing for the Under-23 side week in week out.
William Saliba claimed in a recent interview with Get French Football News that he had a lack of preparation after joining Arsenal because of quarantine. In order to gain rhythm, he said he needed to play matches which explains his loan spell to Nice for the rest of the season.
Arteta wants the 19-year-old to return to Arsenal with more experience and confidence. The hope is that he will return to the Emirates as a player that is ready to thrive in the Premier League for the Gunners. There is no doubt about the fact that Arteta does not want to halt the growth of William Saliba.