The young defender was shipped off on loan after failing to break into the Arsenal first-team earlier in the season.
Bacary Sagna believes Arsenal made a “clever” move to send William Saliba back on loan rather than being laid to waste on the sidelines.
The 20-year-old, who signed for Arsenal in a €30m deal in 2019, failed to make a single first-team appearance after spending the previous campaign on loan at boyhood club Saint-Etienne in France.
Saliba has since returned to France by joining Nice in another loan agreement in January after failing to win favor under Mikel Arteta.
William Saliba in the OGC Nice colours. pic.twitter.com/65IZykIYAs
— Gurjit (@GurjitAFC) January 5, 2021
“I’m not surprised because he has joined the best league in the world,” former Arsenal full-back Sagna told Goal on Saliba’s troubles.
“Being good in France is totally different to proving himself in the Premier League.
“I still have trust in him, I think he is a good player and he can adapt to Arsenal because I’ve seen him play many times.
“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.”
Saliba has since made 14 appearances for Nice across all competitions, including 12 in Ligue 1. His solid displays have helped the club recover lost ground in a bid to seal a top-10 finish in the French league.
On what Saliba needs to succeed in England, Sagna said: “I’m watching games and maybe he needs to be a bit more aggressive.
“Be a leader, especially in his position. I don’t know if he speaks English. This could be a problem when you come to a new country, but you need to adapt fast, you don’t have time.
“Time is a luxury you don’t have when you come to a club like Arsenal because you have to play straight away.
“To adapt it takes months and Mikel probably saw a problem and thought ‘you need to be more aggressive, you need go out somewhere and play’. Then when he comes back, he will have the mentality needed for the Premier League.”