Mikel Arteta says he sent William Saliba out on loan because keeping him at Arsenal would be "damaging" to his progression.
Arteta admits the centre-back's situation was made problematic by the Covid-19 pandemic, which cut short his game time while on loan at Saint Etienne last season.
As a result, Saliba arrived at Arsenal this summer having not had a year to develop, meaning he wasn't ready to be thrown in the deep end at Arsenal.
Arteta admits this was an issue, and one he was keen to rectify, but insists the young defender, who is now on loan at Nice, does have a future in north London.
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"Yes, well, we signed a big project that we had some issues with because he hasn't played enough football in the last eighteen months," explained Arteta.
"At that age and in the development phase he is at that is crucial.
"And I was very conscious when he came back, when he didn't do the step that he had to do before joining us that to start a relationship with a new manager, with a new club, with new team-mates in a situation where he is not having any game time it's really difficult and I think it's really damaging for the future."
The Arsenal boss added: "He will come back for pre-season and he will be with us.
"Hopefully he will come back after playing a number of games and his performance raising and his development progressing in the right way. That's why we made that decision."
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