Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta insists William Saliba is in their long-term plans.

Arteta says that Saliba’s loan move to Nice will be a “crucial” step in protecting his long-term future with Arsenal.

“We signed a big project that we had some issues with because he’s not played enough football over the past 18 months and at that age, and in the development phase he is at, that is crucial,” our manager said.

“I was always very conscious when he came back, when he didn’t do the step that he had to before joining us, that to start a relationship with a new manager, a new club, new team-mates where he is not having any game-time is really difficult and I think it is damaging for the future.

“I want to protect the player that we signed and the future we have alongside him and the best way to do that is to give him minutes to play. He has been really good, it has been a difficult few months for him to cope with that situation but I see the development that he has made, the progression that he has shown over the months and now he is ready to compete.”