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Nice president Jean-Pierre Rivere has hinted that they could keep Arsenal loanee William Saliba beyond the end of the current season.
The Gunners invested £20 million ($27m) in the 19-year-old's talents in the summer of 2019 before allowing him to remain at Saint-Etienne on loan for another year, but he has not seen a single minute of action for Arteta's side since linking up with his new team-mates in north London.
Saliba expressed his frustration after being unveiled at Nice, claiming he wasn't even given the chance to build up a "rhythm" at Arsenal due to the shortened pre-season schedule caused by the coronavirus outbreak.
“The coach immediately told me that I was not ready. I would have at least liked to have had a chance to rediscover my rhythm,” he told reporters on Friday.
“My first six months were difficult, because I was coming from six months where I wasn’t able to train because I was at home and couldn’t train outside, couldn’t play.
“I arrived there as they were finishing the league season, so I was training alone."
Saliba also refused to rule out an extended stay at the Allianz Riviera, whileRivere confirmed that Nice will be open to keeping the centre-back on their books if he performs well between now and June.
The Nice chief said at the Arsenal starlet's official presentation: "Let’s let him rediscover enjoying being on the pitch, playing.
"At the end of the six months, we’ll see – today he’s owned by a club called Arsenal. Everyonewill come together in June and decide.
"A door is always open in life. When you have a situation where parties can talk, the doors are open. We will see, we are not there yet."
Adrian Ursea threw Saliba straight in at the deep end on Saturday as he started the teenager in a Ligue 1 clash with Brest on January 6.