William Saliba is now officially an Arsenal player after the Gunners and Saint-Etienne failed to come to an agreement over an extension of his loan deal. The 19-year-old completed a move to North London last summer but was loaned back to Ligue 1 side Saint-Etienne for the 2019/20 campaign.
The French side had been hoping to secure a loan extension for Saliba which would have allowed him to play in their Coupe de France final against Paris Saint-Germain. However, they say that Arsenal imposed “absolutely unacceptable” conditions on the deal and, as such, Saliba has now left Saint-Etienne for good.
William Saliba Officially an Arsenal Player After Loan Extension With Saint-Etienne Falls Through
Mikel Arteta Was Willing to Grant Extension
It was reported yesterday that Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta was happy for Saliba to appear in the final. He told reporters: “He has earned the right to play in that final if the manager wants to do that. I think we have to give him the opportunity to do that, to enjoy that and we can have him after that.”
It’s unclear what has ultimately changed Arsenal’s mind. However, given their defensive problems, both in terms of injuries and performance, since the Premier League restarted, it’s likely a case of the Gunners not wanting to risk injury to another defender.
There would have been a higher chance of injury, too. The French season was declared over early in lockdown and teams have not been back together training since (expect for PSG, who are still allowed to compete in the Champions League).
The Coupe de France final was to go ahead too, and Saint-Etienne wanted to extend Saliba’s loan until July 24 in order to allow him to play in the final. However, he is now set to link up with the Gunners and could play a part in their remaining Premier League and FA Cup matches.