Former Arsenal defender Bacary Sagna has said that the club have not punished William Saliba by sending him out on loan this season. He went on to back the 20-year-old defender to still make his mark at the Emirates.
Saliba joined Ligue 1 outfit Nice in January and is yet to make a senior appearance for the Gunners after his £27 million ($37m) move from Saint-Etienne in 2019.
This action by the club resulted in suggestions that Mikel Arteta does not rate the Frenchman. Regardless, Sagna believes that Saliba will be a key man at the club.
In a chat with Goal on whether he was surprised at the player’s current situation at the club since he joined Saint-Etienne, Sagna responded:
“I’m not surprised because he has joined the best league in the world. Being good in France is totally different to proving himself in the Premier League.
“I still have trust in him, I think he is a good player and he can adapt to Arsenal because I’ve seen him play many times.
“He is doing well at Nice and has probably been their best player. At that age you need to be playing. He has big potential and in France people know it.
“Sending him away is not a bad thing, it’s not a punishment. To me it’s clever to send him [on loan] rather than him being on the bench or not even being in the squad.”
Sagna has been watching Saliba closely since his breakthrough season in France before the move to Arsenal and believes that the player needs to start taking a bit more responsibility on the pitch.
“I’m watching games and maybe he needs to be a bit more aggressive,” said the 38-year-old.
“Be a leader, especially in his position. I don’t know if he speaks English. This could be a problem when you come to a new country, but you need to adapt fast, you don’t have time.
“Time is a luxury you don’t have when you come to a club like Arsenal because you have to play straight away.
“To adapt it takes months and Mikel probably saw a problem and thought ‘you need to be more aggressive, you need go out somewhere and play’.
“Then when he comes back, he will have the mentality needed for the Premier League.”