Mikel Arteta insists he is "keeping a very close eye" on all of Arsenal's stars out on loan, including William Saliba.

The 19-year-old defender is currently plying his trade with French Ligue 1 club Nice after failing to force his way into Arteta's plans.

It was thought Saliba would play some part in this campaign having been signed for £27million back in 2019 and spending last season back on loan at former club Saint-Etienne.

But Arteta told the centre-back he was "not ready" for first-team action, instead shipping him out to gain more experience elsewhere, though has offered a glimmer of hope to Saliba over his future.

"We’re having meetings very often to assess what they’re doing and obviously we’re getting all the information and watching their games because I want to keep a very close eye on what they’re doing," Arteta told Arsenal.com.

William Saliba is currently out on loan at Nice
William Saliba is currently out on loan at Nice

"We were talking yesterday for example with Ben Knapper, who is our loan manager, who is in charge of monitoring everything we are doing, and we are in contact with the players.

"Let’s see. It’s good news that they are playing and it’s good news that they have the possibility to have a lot of minutes because that’s going to give us a much better perception of where they are and how we can use them."

Saliba admitted previously he was "hurt" by his temporary exit, but has been playing regularly in France, making 10 appearances since joining Nice at the beginning of January.

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Arteta has stressed this season will act as a "transition year" for the youngster to get more used to the rigours of professional football and allow him a chance to develop before joining back up with Arsenal in the summer.

There is some scepticism over Saliba's long-term future at Arsenal, though, given he was not signed by Arteta, who has added two other centre-backs to his squad since his appointment.

He has done little to endear himself to his manager either, from interacting with fellow outcast Matteo Guendouzi to being openly critical of Arteta since, while seemingly holding little intentions of returning.

"It is clear that so much has changed in the last year," Saliba told RMC Sport recently.

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"When I saw that the coach changed a lot [things] changed for me too. In this year there has been a lot of change. He [Arteta] judged me on two-and-a-half matches. I would have liked for him to play me more. But he told me I wasn't ready.

"I was waiting for him to give me a chance, but football is like that."

He added: "When I initially came to Arsenal the league looked very good, so I showed up to training and wanted to train on my own to show the coach I was ready.

"I am happy now. I want to play for Nice. The idea when you're part of a team is a better feeling for me."