Bacary Sagna ‘not surprised’ by Arsenal’s treatment of William Saliba

Bacary Sagna isn’t surprised with William Saliba’s slow integration into the Arsenal squad, and he insists the loan to OGC Nice is not a bad thing.

After signing for Arsenal to plenty of fanfare in 2019, William Saliba is still waiting to make his competitive senior debut for his new club.

He went back on loan to Saint-Etienne for his first season with the Gunners, a campaign disrupted by multiple injuries and the pandemic. Then after struggling to break into Mikel Arteta’s squad, Saliba took another loan to OGC Nice in January.

Former Gunner Bacary Sagna insists this shouldn’t be viewed as some sort of punishment, however. It’s simply part of his preparations to eventually become a Premier League player for Arsenal.

“I’m not surprised (by Saliba’s situation) because he has joined the best league in the world,” Sagna said. “Being good in France is totally different to proving himself in the Premier League.

“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.”

The loan to Nice has gone very well so far. Saliba has made 14 appearances already, only missing two games – one because he was ineligible, and the other because he had tested positive for Covid.

The centre-back won Nice’s Player of the Month award for January, and he’s forming a strong partnership with fellow loanee Jean-Clair Todibo. As long as he returns from his Covid absence in similarly strong form, he’ll make a great case for chances next pre-season.

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