William Saliba says it was for the best that he spent the last few seasons on loan, before praising Mikel Arteta’s coaching at Arsenal.

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 05: William Saliba of Arsenal looks on during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Arsenal FC at Selhurst Park on August 05, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND: William Saliba of Arsenal looks on during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Arsenal FC at Selhurst Park on August 05, 2022. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Following his initial loan spell back to Saint-Etienne, which was required in the terms of his transfer to Arsenal, William Saliba then went back to France for subsequent loans to OGC Nice and Marseille.

Those loans were sometimes criticised by Arsenal fans, who believed Saliba should have stayed and played in north London. But speaking to the French media this week, Saliba insisted it was better for him to go on loan.

“As everyone knows, I didn’t play,” Saliba said (via GFFN). “For me, it was better to go away. I’m a young player and it’s always better to play and gain experience, make errors and learn.

“If you don’t play, you can’t progress. For me, going away for a year-and-a-half was good. I came back stronger, with new ambitions.”

Seemingly shooting down another common complaint from Arsenal fans, Saliba praised Arteta’s coaching and suggested they have a good relationship.

“He was happy with what I did whilst on loan,” Saliba continued. “He’s a very good coach, who really knows what he’s doing. He is clear in everything that he says.

“He has helped me integrate quickly into this system of play. Every day he gives advice to be better on the pitch.”

Arsenal's French defender William Saliba celebrates as Arsenal's Brazilian defender Gabriel Magalhaes scores during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Fulham at the Emirates Stadium in London on August 27, 2022. (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)
Arsenal’s French defender William Saliba celebrates as Arsenal’s Brazilian defender Gabriel Magalhaes scores during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Fulham at the Emirates Stadium in London on August 27, 2022. (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)

Despite all the naysayers, it seems Arsenal’s treatment of Saliba is all working out for the best.

The one caveat to that would be that he still hasn’t signed a new deal for the club, meaning he has less than two years on his contract.

As long as the defender extends, it’s hard to have any complaints about his development pathway so far.

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Arsenal fan since a young age, now a season ticket holder who enjoys writing, tweeting and making videos about the Gunners.