Arsenal defender William Saliba has impressed in his time on loan at Marseille, guiding the club to second in Ligue 1, taking a place in next season’s Champions League. The 21-year-old’s performances earned plenty of plaudits, winning the league’s Young Player of the Season award.
However, following that spell, the centre-back is now set to return to the Emirates, with uncertainty surrounding his role in the squad. As a result, the youngster has been linked with a move away from the club, with only two-years remaining on his current deal.
With that in mind, football.london takes a look at all the latest on the transfer saga as rumours begin to heat up on a potential move for the defender.
Mikel Arteta claim
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has claimed that Saliba “has to” return to the club next season, following his spell with Marseille. Speaking to RMC Sport, he said: “He has to come back. He has the experience and the necessary environment to be competitive with us. If he had stayed with us this year, with one Premier League game a week and with Ben White and Gabriel, he wouldn’t have had half the game time he had with Marseille, that’s for sure.
“In terms of his growth and what he could do next year it wouldn’t have been good. William wasn’t with us because he wouldn’t have had the playing time required to gain experience. That’s it, nothing else.”
Marseille club president Pablo Longoria is planning to hold talks with Arsenal over a prospective move for the French defender. Speaking to RMC Sport, he was also very complimentary of the Gunners as a club.
“We had a lot of conversations analysing William Saliba’s season, especially in the last few days,” he said. “He’s coming off an extraordinary season, with one of the highest number of matches played in Europe.
“He also joined the France team, which is incredible at his age. We discussed a lot internally about what we can do, to find out what the possibilities are. We respect his club, we have to thank Arsenal.
“It’s a friendly club that helped us a lot during the last transfer window. We have very good relations. We have to talk to each other, see if there is the possibility of reaching an agreement between the clubs, there is the player’s will, the club’s will… But above all, we must respect Arsenal.”
William Saliba admission