The young defender exited the Emirates in January without even making his senior debut over the first half of the campaign.
Willian Saliba admits to feeling ‘hurt’ and ‘affected’ by the lack of first-team opportunities at Arsenal.
Arsenal left Saliba on a season-long loan at Saint-Etienne after striking a deal reportedly worth around £27 million (€30m) with the Ligue 1 outfit for his signing in the summer of 2019.
Expectations were high of the highly-rated 19-year-old when he finally linked up with the north London side at the start of the 2020-21 season.
However, things did not go according to plans for him as the French defender not only failed to make a place for himself in Mikel Arteta’s line-up but also in his senior squad.
After failing to make even a single appearance for Arsenal in the first half of the campaign, he returned to his homeland in January.
Saliba has since been enjoying time on the pitch, having played in five matches for Nice.
“I really, really, really didn’t think that I would be transferred for almost €30m,” he explained in an interview with TV station TF1.
“To think that I would arrive, where people were expecting a lot from me, the fans were excited about me and you find yourself in the reserves, playing zero – nothing in the Europa League or the Premier League. I was in the squad once in the EFL Cup.
“It hurt me, it affected me. I don’t think I left too early. When you feel ready you have to go. These things happen. I believe in myself.”