William Saliba has hit out at Arsenal’s treatment of him during the first half of the season, claiming that he was “hurt” by being frozen out.
The 19-year-old turned out for the first team in pre-season matches, but he did not play a single minute for Mikel Arteta’s team in competitive games before being loaned out to Nice.
Saliba has quickly become a regular for the Ligue 1 strugglers, and the defender has now opened up on how his difficult first few months at the Emirates Stadium affected him before Nice handed him a new lease of life.
Speaking to TF1, Saliba said: “I really, really, really didn’t think that I would be transferred for €30m, to think that I would arrive, where people were expecting a lot from me, the fans excited about me and you find yourself in the reserves, play zero, zero, nothing in the Europa League or the league.
“I was in the squad once in the league cup. It hurt me, it affected me. When you feel ready you have to go. I don’t think I left too early. These things happen. I believe in myself.”
When asked about his long-term future, Saliba responded: “I don’t know. I have learned now that it is better not to look too far in the future.
“So I am focused on just these six months to try to give absolutely everything and for the rest we will see.”
The teenager has already made five top-flight appearances for Nice this season, but he was unable to prevent Les Aiglons from falling to a 1-0 defeat to fellow strugglers Saint-Etienne on Sunday.