The former Arsenal defender tells Goal that the 20-year-old can still make an impression in north London.

Bacary Sagna believes Arsenal did not punish William Saliba by loaning him out this season and believes the 20-year-old will still make an impact in north London.

Saliba is reportedly back in France after joining Nice in January, having yet to make a senior appearance for Arsenal after his £27 million ($37 million) transfer from Saint-Etienne in 2019.

Mikel Arteta’s decision not to play him this season has prompted many to believe that Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger may not rate the Frenchman, but Sagna believes Saliba can still make an impression at Emirates Stadium.

WHAT WAS IT TOLD?

“I’m not shocked because he has reached the greatest league in the world,” Sagna said exclusively to Goal when asked if he was surprised by how Saliba’s case has been treated since his arrival from Saint-Etienne. Being nice in France is not the same as proving yourself in the Premier League.

“I really believe in him; I believe he is a talented player who can adapt to Arsenal because I have seen him play many times.

“He’s doing well at Nice and is likely their best player. You should be playing at that age. He has a lot of promise, and people in France are aware of it.

“REMOVING HIM IS NOT A BAD THING; IT IS NOT A PENALTY. TO ME, IT’S SMART TO TRANSFER HIM ON LOAN RATHER THAN HAVE HIM ON THE BENCH OR NOT EVEN IN THE SQUAD.”

WHAT CAN SALIBA DO TO IMPROVE?

Sagna, who has been watching Saliba closely since his breakout in France prior to his move to Arsenal, thinks the young defender wants to take on more pressure on the field.

“I’m playing football, and maybe he wants to be a little more aggressive,” said the 38-year-old, who played 284 times for Arsenal before joining Manchester City in 2014.

“Leadership is important, particularly in his role. I’m not sure if he knows English. This may be an issue if you move to a new world, but you need to learn quickly and you don’t have time.

“When you go to a club like Arsenal, you don’t have time so you would play immediately.

“It takes months to adapt, and Mikel probably saw a challenge and said, ‘You need to be more competitive, go out somewhere to play.’

“WHEN HE RETURNS, HE WILL HAVE THE ATTITUDE NEEDED FOR THE PREMIER LEAGUE.”

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