Nice manager explains why he’s signed William Saliba on loan from Arsenal

William Saliba looks on during Arsenal U21s' clash with AFC Wimbledon
Arsenal centre-back William Saliba has joined Nice on loan until the end of the season (Picture: Getty)

Nice manager Adrian Ursea has backed William Saliba to be a valuable addition for the second half of the club’s campaign and says the defender’s qualities and ‘personality’ shone through during his time at Saint-Etienne.

It was announced on Tuesday that Arsenal had agreed to loan Saliba to Nice until the end of the season and the 19-year-old will be desperate to get some regular minutes under his belt, given he’s still yet to make a single competitive appearance for the Gunners.

The France Under-20 international was reportedly left ‘devastated’ after being denied a temporary return to Saint-Etienne in the summer and has at last been given the chance to prove himself to Mikel Arteta with the guarantee of first-team football.

After Saliba’s loan to Nice was confirmed, Arsenal technical director Edu passed on his best wishes and said he was convinced the teenage centre-back still had a big future at the Emirates.

‘He is a player with a huge amount of talent and potential,’ Edu told the club’s official wesbite.

‘We’re confident he will have a great career with us but we must remember that he is still only 19 years old and has a lot of time ahead of him.

‘William experienced a very challenging time last year, with his playing time limited by injury and the early ending of the Ligue 1 season due to the pandemic.

‘So together with William, we have decided that spending the rest of the season on loan with Nice is the best way for him to develop.

‘We will be keeping in close contact with William during his time with Nice and look forward to seeing him make good progress until the end of the season.’

William Saliba kicks the ball in Arsenal training
The Frenchman is still yet to make a first-team appearance for the Gunners (Picture: Getty)

It’s understood Arsenal have been given assurances that Saliba will feature heavily for Nice this season and it’s clear he has an admirer in Ursea, his manager at the Allianz Riviera.

‘He can bring us a lot of things, on the defensive side and in terms of our playing style and initiating moves,’ Ursea told OGC Nice TV.

‘He can also be very precious to us in set pieces, an area where we have suffered a lot, even though that has been a little less the case in recent matches, which is perhaps due to our changes in terms of the organisation.

‘His arrival will create movement in our defence. We lost Dante, we are still waiting for the leaders to show themselves.

‘William is a player with a lot of personality, a personality that didn’t waste any time in revealing himself. With what he showed before leaving for England, honestly, talk about his age, I don’t even take that into account.

‘Either a player is good or not, that is what interests me. It is not easy to succeed in Saint-Etienne’s defence, no matter your age.’

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