Nice chief hints at keeping Arsenal loanee William Saliba beyond this season

William Saliba of Arsenal in action during the Papa John's Trophy Second Round match between AFC Wimbledon and Arsenal U21 at Plough Lane on December 08, 2020 in Wimbledon, England.
Saliba has joined Nice on a six-month loan (Picture: Getty)

Nice are open to keeping William Saliba beyond his six-month loan from Arsenal, the club’s president has hinted.

Saliba returned to Ligue 1 in the January transfer window and was thrown in straight at the deep end as he started in a 2-0 defeat to Brest on Wednesday night.

The defender wasn’t given any opportunities to shine for Arsenal since a move to north London in the summer, failing to make a single appearance for the first team.

Gunners boss Mikel Arteta has called for patience for the 19-year-old centre-half and believes a move back to France will help aid his development.

While the loan is only for an initial six-month period, Nice president Jean-Pierre Rivere has suggested they would be happy to keep him beyond that.

‘Let’s let him rediscover enjoying being on the pitch, playing,’ he said.

Nice's president Jean-Pierre Rivere reacts during the French L1 football match between Stade Rennais and Nice, on September 1, 2019 at the Roazhon Park stadium in Rennes, western France.
Rivere hinted Nice would be keen to keep Saliba beyond this six-month period (Picture: AFP via Getty)

‘At the end of the 6 months, we’ll see – today he’s owned by a club called Arsenal. Everyone in June will come together and decide.

Asked if there was a clause to extend the deal, he added: ‘A door is always open in life.

‘When you have a situation where parties can talk, the doors are open. We will see, we are not there yet.’

Saliba is hoping to get minutes under his belt, having grown frustrated by his time in north London, and admitted he will consider his options at the end of the season.

He said: ‘My first six months (at Arsenal) were difficult, because I was coming from six months where I wasn’t able to train because I was at home (because of the pandemic), and couldn’t train outside, couldn’t play.

‘I arrived there as they were finishing the leagues season, so I was training alone. As soon as they came back from holidays, we quickly had the first friendly matches where I lacked rhythm and was a bit insufficient physically.

‘The coach immediately told me that I was not ready. I would have at least liked to have a chance to rediscover my rhythm. But this is football, it’s like that.

‘I have signed a 6 month contract, after these 6 months we will see what happens. But for now I have signed for 6 months, I am going to give my all, and then we will see.’

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