Arsenal defender William Saliba was handed the man of the match award on only his second appearance for Nice in the 1-1 draw against Metz at the weekend.
The 19-year-old moved back to France in order to gain more first-team experience after spending the first half of the season with Arsenal’s Under 23s.
Saliba’s lack of match action after his arrival at the Gunners was a massive surprise and his excellent display for Nice on Saturday has left supporters on Twitter scratching their heads as to why manager Mikel Arteta didn’t play him:
— Lee (@Lee70017916) January 10, 2021
Can't wait for him to come back. Bench Mari and Holding ASAP
— M.Johnson (@oziljohnson10) January 10, 2021
If our manager didn’t have favourites I question whether we would be where we are in the league 🤔
— Kiiruu (@Kiiruu5) January 10, 2021
Funny. He wasn't fit or ready for arsenal but mustafi an others were.
— JoshiLoveArsenalFC🆒 (@hitscharming) January 10, 2021
FFS! What is Arteta playing at!? The team desperately needed good centre halves, we get two and then put one out on loan!
— Richard B (@TrickyFOTS) January 10, 2021
and they said he wasn't ready.
— gareth piggott (@gareth227) January 10, 2021
Arsenal and Arteta favoritism toward few player is ruining the game and player spirit!!!
— Goonersnyc🌎🗽🇺🇸 (@goonersnyc) January 10, 2021
Top, top talent. Very clear to see. Badly mismanaged by Arteta, who has favourites like Holding who is at least two classes below Saliba.
— Tone Lane (@tone_lane) January 10, 2021
The line from the club has always been that Saliba isn’t ready to play in the Premier League. Of course, Ligue One is not quite the same standard as the English top-flight but it shows the player really isn’t far off in terms of the level required.
Spending £27m on the Frenchman and then giving him no game time whatsoever always looked a perplexing decision. It will be hoped that the centre-back continues to perform well at Nice before returning to the Emirates in order to become a first-team regular with Arsenal next season.