Arsenal defender William Saliba has joined Nice on loan for the remainder of the season.
The 19-year-old is expected to be a first-team regular at the Ligue 1 club while Dante recovers from a cruciate ligament injury picked up in November which looks to rule the 37-year-old out for the rest of the season.
An Arsenal statement said the move is "designed to give the 19-year-old French youth international defender the chance for more competitive playing time".
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Arsenal's technical director Edu said: “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.
The French side will reportedly pay Saliba’s wages in full.
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta spoke about Saliba in November, saying he was “fed up” of having the young defender in limbo after a failed attempt to loan him out in the last window.
He said: “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 Saint-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."
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Dean Jones reported on December 11 that Saliba was set for an exit from Arsenal in January having failed to win over Arteta.
Inside Football reported: "William Saliba is available for a move as sources indicate that there is no future for him while Arteta is in charge. He was signed 18 months ago when head of football Raul Sanllehi was at the club, but various insiders say there is a belief the defender is not ready for the Premier League."
'Saliba would be a leader in Nice's defence'
Vincent Bregevin from Eurosport France
I am really surprised with how it has gone for Saliba at Arsenal. I thought he wouldn’t have any problem to get playing time considering his level and Arsenal’s problems in defence at that time. Anyway, I have no doubt he would bounce back at Nice.
He’s still one of the best defenders of his generation, he knows the league quite well and he would have responsibilities right away as Dante is injured.
He would become the leader of Nice’s defence, and he showed he can play that role perfectly during his time at Saint-Etienne.
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