This morning the news broke that a loan for 19-year-old defender William Saliba was likely and that Ligue 1 side OGC Nice was the presumed destination.
Hours later, Arsenal made the loan official.
“The move is designed to give the 19-year-old French youth international defender the chance for more competitive playing time,” Arsenal’s statement said, and it can’t be knocked too much.
It had become clear that Arsenal weren’t looking to build Saliba into the side this year, especially after having not registered him for the Europa League group stages as a stepping stone into the squad earlier this year.
Was it a mistake? Could he have been playing in the Premier League from the very first day?
I suppose we can only speculate now and draw loose parallels between his U23 performances, what he does at Nice, and how that would have translated to the Premier League — if it would have translated to the Premier League.
Technical director Edu said, “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.”
If there are any positives to really drive home on this, it is that he will get more time with Nice than he would have with us, and that Arsenal seem set on him still having a future role within the squad. For a brief moment, it seemed as though both parties may have prematurely severed ties, which would have been a real shame.
Ideally this second half of the season goes well, Saliba performs consistently and stays healthy, he joins Arsenal again for a full preseason this time, and slots in nicely for the 2021/22 season.
Best of luck Saliba!