Arsenal defender William Saliba has joined Ligue 1 side Nice on loan for the rest of the season.
The Gunners completed a medical with the French side on Monday and has moved just six months after arriving in north London.
The club say they have sanctioned the move with the intention of developing Saliba for the future, with the defender yet to make his competitive debut.
Arsenal defender William Saliba has secured a loan move back to France with Nice
Mikel Arteta admitted he was ‘fed up’ with the situation surrounding the teenage defender
Technical director Edu told his club’s official website: ‘William Saliba is a player with a huge amount of talent and potential. 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.’
Saliba was bought from St-Etienne in a deal worth up to £27million but has yet to make a competitive first-team appearance for Arsenal, with Mikel Arteta admitting he was ‘fed up’ with the situation.
The club say the Saliba has moved with the intention of developing for Arsenal in the future
He was sent back on loan to St-Etienne last season as part of his transfer deal and made 17 appearances.
St-Etienne were interested in taking him on loan again but will now join Nice, who will not pay a fee but will cover the defender’s wages.
It comes after reports in France last week that Saliba was willing to take a significant wage cut in order to secure a move from Arsenal this January.
According to Canal Plus, Saliba was open to moving down to a £90,000-a-month salary in order to seal a move to former club St-Etienne.
Saliba, who is believed to earn around £160,000 per month in his current Arsenal contract, came through the St-Etienne youth ranks and made his first-team debut in September 2018.
Saliba has yet to make a single appearance since joining for £27million in the summer of 2019
Saliba (right) had been linked with a move to former club St-Etienne in the January window
Arteta admitted in November he was frustrated by the situation surrounding Saliba, whose season back in France was hampered by injury issues and the coronavirus pandemic.
He said in November: ‘I’m fed up with the situation because, as you could see, we tried to find a way in the last few days to give him some football.
‘I explained that he needed that transition year when we decided to buy him and send him on loan to St-Etienne. For many reasons, that didn’t happen – he didn’t have that transition year and he needs to go through that.
‘At the moment, with the amount of central defenders we have in the team, we had to leave him out of the squad, which is painful. Now we have some injuries and we could have used him but this is part of the profession.’
Saliba was left out of Arsenal’s Europa League squad at the start of the season by Arteta
Saliba told Matteo Guendouzi and Nicolas Pepe on Instagram that he had been ‘locked up’
Last month Saliba was caught on social media joking that he had been ‘locked up’ by the club.
Saliba was congratulating Matteo Guendouzi on his first goal for Hertha Berlin, before winger Nicolas Pepe commented: ‘This is your (Saliba’s) problem, you comment on everything.’
Saliba then jokingly replied: ‘Hahaha, I’m sending well wishes to the brother that was locked up like me.’
Guendouzi then gave sympathy to the Arsenal defender, saying: ‘We are together bro.’
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