Arsenal defender William Saliba has impressed during his loan spell at Marseille, helping the team achieve second place in Ligue 1 and a place in the Champions League for next season. The 21-year-old’s efforts were lauded, and he was named Young Player of the Season by the league.
However, the centre-back is poised to return to the Emirates following that stint, with his status in the squad still up in the air. As a result, with only two years left on his present contract, the teenager has been linked with a move away from the club.
With that in mind, Sports Deputy takes a look at the latest developments in the transfer situation, as speculation over a possible deal for the defender heats up.
Mikel Arteta claim
Following his loan spell with Marseille, Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has stated that Saliba “needs to” return to the club next season. “He has to come back,” he said in an interview with RMC Sport. He has the requisite experience and atmosphere to compete with us. He would not have got half the game time with Marseille if he had stayed with us this year, with one Premier League game each week and Ben White and Gabriel.
“It wouldn’t have been helpful for his development and what he could do next year.” William was unable to join us since he lacked the necessary playing time to build experience. That’s all there is to it.”
Marseille president Pablo Longoria intends to speak with Arsenal about a possible transfer for the French defender. In an interview with RMC Sport, he also praised the Gunners as a club.
“We had a lot of chats, especially in the last few days, about William Saliba’s season,” he said. “He’s coming off an incredible season in which he played in one of the most matches in Europe.
“At his age, he also joined the France team, which is extraordinary.” Internally, we spoke a lot about what we could do to see what options we had. We like his club, and we owe Arsenal a debt of gratitude.
“It’s a welcoming club that aided us greatly during the previous transfer window.” We have a great working relationship. We need to communicate to each other and see if there is a chance of reaching an agreement between the clubs; there is the will of the players, the will of the club… We must, above all, respect Arsenal.”
William Saliba admission
The defender has shown interest in returning to the Champions League this summer, telling the Metro earlier this month: “I want to come back and play in the Champions League.” I’ve never played in it before, and I’m excited to do so here.”
Saliba wants to stay at Marseille, according to journalist Mohamed Toubache-ter of GFFN, and both clubs are aware of his decision. Despite this, it will be up to Les Olympiens to make an offer that suits Arsenal, especially given other clubs’ apparent interest.