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Saliba was affected by Arsenal’s decision to send Guendouzi out on loan

William Saliba was affected by Arsenal’s decision to send Matteo Guendouzi out on loan at the start of the season, according to The Athletic.

The 19-year-old signed for the Gunners from Saint-Etienne for £27 million in the summer of 2019 but was loaned back to the French side for a season. He made his way to North London last summer and was looking forward to linking up with Guendouzi. The two French players knew each other well as they rose up the France youth ranks together. 

Guendouzi was frozen out of the first team after being involved in a number of controversies culminating in his unacceptable behaviour in Arsenal’s 2-1 defeat to Brighton in June 2020. He made some unsavoury comments to Neil Maupay and behaved in a very aggressive manner in the closing stages of the game. 

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta was furious with the Frenchman and expected him to apologise. Guendouzi refused to do so and was left out of every subsequent matchday squad.

He was not with the team when they lifted the FA Cup in August and reports began to emerge that the Gunners were keen on offloading him in the summer.

The French midfielder ended up joining Hertha Berlin on a season-long loan deal as the North London side did not receive any acceptable bids for the player. 

Saliba is understood to have ‘felt’ the impact of Arsenal’s decision to send Guendouzi out on loan. Before moving to North London, the two players are understood to have discussed the prospect of reuniting at the Emirates. 

In addition to this, former Arsenal boss Unai Emery’s dismissal is believed to have affected Saliba. The Spaniard helped convince the 19-year-old to sign for the Gunners but lost his job before he got the opportunity to manage the player.

Head of Football Raul Sanllehi was another man who played a crucial role in securing the former Saint-Etienne player’s signature but was dismissed last summer.

Arsenal underwent wholesale change in the year between Saliba signing for the North London side and linking up with them. This has complicated his ability to adjust but the Frenchman will be thrilled to be playing regular football for Nice who he joined on loan in January.

Gunners boss Mikel Arteta has made it clear that the 19-year-old is an important part of the North London side’s future. 

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