Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta received no end of criticism over William Saliba prior to this season.
The Gunners defender took in two additional loan spells – beyond his Saint-Etienne stint – while on Arsenal’s books.
But Arteta knew what he was doing, letting Saliba hone his skills in a slightly lower-pressure environment than the Premier League.
And in France, the 21-year-old went from a promising prospect to a star in the making over the past three years.
Now, Arteta may be about to repeat his Saliba masterstroke with Nuno Tavares.
‘He’ll be one of the best’
The full-back struggled in his maiden campaign at Arsenal last season, looking defensively vulnerable at times.
The most notable example was when he came off during the first-half of their FA Cup defeat to Nottingham Forest.
With Oleksandr Zinchenko joining the Gunners this summer, the decision was made for Tavares to go out on loan.
The 22-year-old joined Marseille, the club where Saliba honed his skills ahead of his Arsenal breakthrough.
And Tavares has been doing well at the Ligue 1 club, with eight league outings and three goals.
He has also played the full 90 minutes in each of their three Champions League appearances this term.
Manager Igor Tudor has now said that, while Tavares isn’t the finished product, he could potentially become world-class.
Speaking at a press conference ahead of this weekend’s game against Ajaccio, he said, as per Jeunes Footeux: “Tavares is a good guy. A bit timid off the pitch. He’s quick, he’s solid.
“He still needs to improve things, like his final ball, or make better choices. If he can do that, he’ll be one of the best in the world in his role.”
Last season, it was clear that Tavares is an ‘exceptional‘ talent, albeit in need of a bit more coaching and experience.
And this term, he’s getting just that at Marseille, where he’s shining like Saliba shone last year.
At present, Arsenal’s left-back position boasts Kieran Tierney and Zinchenko, so they’re good for now.
But Tavares is certainly on the right track to potentially challenge them next season.