William Saliba’s loan at Ligue 1 side Saint-Etienne has come to an acrimonious end, with the defender set to miss the French Cup final and return to Arsenal after the two clubs failed to agree to an extension to his temporary deal.
The 19-year-old has been handed the number 4 shirt at Arsenal for next season. He is one of Europe’s most highly-rated young centre-back and is expected to add significant quality and securing to Arsenal’s defensive woes.
Saliba has began playing football at the age of 6 and was coached by Kylian Mbappe’s father. He joined Saint Etienne in 2016 and made his senior debut for the club in September 2018. In total, he made 36 appearances for Les Verts. Due to injury problems, he only made 17 appearances for the club in all competitions this term.
Arsenal’s defensive options still faced significant criticism despite they secured the signed of David Luiz from Chelsea last summer but the arrived of William Saliba will add significant quality and securing to Gunners defensive woes.
Meanwhile, the 19-year-old defender is looking forward to getting started at the Emirates Stadium, telling L’Equipe: ‘I fell for Arsenal from the start. A number of French players have been there.
‘Arsenal has not been at the top of its game for the last three, four years. But, like Saint-Etienne, its badge, its history and its fans made me want it.
‘I have a crush on Arsenal. What it gives off speaks to me. I had no hesitation, I am discovering another world.’
Earlier this week, the highly-rated centre-back was in London but he has been return to France to watch French cup final from the stands at the Stade de France after Saint-Etienne were then left furious after being unable to reach an agreement with Arsenal over extending the loan so Saliba could play in the match after the Gunners said initially it wouldn’t be a problem.
He expressed his disappointment in an interview with L’Equipe.
‘I couldn’t miss this. As I am not able to play, I want to at least feel this final as much as possible, by supporting my team in the stadium,’ he said.
‘In front of the TV, it would not be the same. It was important for me to be there, hoping to see Les Verts win.
‘It will also allow me to say goodbye to my team-mates properly. Because I felt like I was a robber.’