William Saliba has been handed an encouraging boost over his Arsenal future by manager Mikel Arteta.
The centre-back was bought for £28million from Ligue 1 side Saint Etienne, linking up with the Gunners in June 2020.
But he failed to play a part in Arteta’s plans before Christmas, failing to make a Premier League squad and spending more time with the reserves than the senior side.
That saw him sent out on loan back to France with Nice, where he has become an ever-present in Adrian Ursea’s line-up.
It has been a disappointing season for Nice, who are ninth in the French top-flight, but Saliba has helped them keep four clean sheets in joining in January.
His impressive performances have also seen him named Player of the Month in both January and February, as well as being awarded man of the match several times.
Saliba spent his youth career switching between attacking midfielder and defender, helping him to develop into a confident ball playing centre back.
He is also a boyhood Gunners fan, shunning the likes of Atletico Madrid, Manchester United and Everton to join the club he supports when Saint Etienne were ready to sell.
The first season as an Arsenal player has not quite worked out as Saliba would have hoped, with Rob Holding, Gabriel and David Luiz ahead of him in the pecking order.
But Football.London report he has been handed a boost, with Arteta ready to take a close look at the Frenchman during pre-season.
Saliba’s good news could spell the end of David Luiz’s Arsenal career, with the Brazilian out of contract at the end of the season.
With Saliba and Dinos Mavropanos returning from loan moves and Calum Chambers able to play at the heart of defence, it now seems unlikely Luiz will be handed another contract.
Arteta is the advanced stages of planning out what his squad will look like next season, with Arsenal set to prioritise a right-back and left-back in the summer, as well as bringing Martin Odegaard back on a permeant deal.