William Saliba has claimed Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta “judged me on two-and-a-half matches” after being offloaded on loan to Nice in January.
Saliba joined Arsenal from Saint-Etienne in 2019 for £27m, while Unai Emery was at the helm, but was immediately loaned back to the French side for experience.
He was unable to complete the season in Ligue 1 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Arsenal failed to come to an agreement with Saint-Etienne over extending his loan.
Hence, the young defender returned to north London in the summer of 2020. However, he was not integrated into the first team squad with Arteta saying the 19-year-old was not ready.
Saliba has already gone on record stating his first six months in north London were “difficult” and he has spoken again about life under Arteta.
Saliba failed to make a single senior appearance for the Gunners and was left off the squad list for the Premier League and Europa League.
That signalled his exit and his time with Nice so far has been successful.
In an interview on RMC’s ‘Top of the Foot’ show, Saliba took a swipe at Arteta.
Saliba said: “It is clear that so much has changed in the last year.
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“When I saw that the coach changed, a lot changed for me too. In this year there has been a lot of change. He judged me on two-and-a-half matches. I would have liked for him to play me more. But he told me I wasn’t ready.
“I was waiting for him to give me a chance, but football is like that. When I initially came to Arsenal the league looked very good so I showed up to training and wanted to train on my own to show the coach I was ready.
“I am happy now, I want to play for Nice. The idea when you’re part of a team is a better feeling for me.”
Since arriving in Nice, Saliba has made seven appearances and won Nice’s Player of the Month award for January.
Pundit baffled by Martinez exit
Meanwhile, Former England striker Peter Crouch has praised Aston Villa’s defence and questioned why Arsenal allowed goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez to move to Villa Park.
Villa beat Arsenal 1-0 on Saturday, with Martinez keeping his 11th clean sheet of the season. The result left Dean Smith’s men ninth in the Premier League standings and four points better off than the Gunners.
It seems like it was an inspired move for the player and Crouch believes there was only one loser.
“The signing of Emi Martinez, meanwhile, has been critical,” added the 40-year-old. “I couldn’t understand why Arsenal sold him and I was even more confused by that decision on Saturday.”