What does the future hold for Arsenal exile William Saliba?

Robin Bairner
Robin Bairner Updated: 17 May 2021 21:51 BST 4 min read
What does the future hold for Arsenal exile William Saliba?

William Saliba’s Arsenal prospects continue to fade almost by the day.

The 19-year-old centre-back is, remarkably, yet to make his debut for the Gunners, despite signing with the Emirates club in 2019.

His £27 million price tag was a hefty one, and a fee that seemed to underline the confidence the London club had in the promising defender.

He spent his first year at the club back out on loan to Saint-Etienne, whose academy he had graduated from. Upon his return, though, he has been frozen out by Mikel Arteta.

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  • Indeed, the Spaniard is reported by The Athletic to have made a centre-back his primary target for the January transfer window.

    This corroborates with an admission from the Arsenal boss that he wants Saliba to gain greater first team exposure.

    “I’m fed up with the situation,” he admitted ahead of a Europa League clash against Molde.

    Where does that, then, leave Saliba?

    Who will sign William Saliba?

    With the January transfer window looming, the teenager is set to have options.

    “We certainly tried in the last few days of the transfer window to find the right club and we had it, but at the end of the day we could not make it,” Arteta said.

    STATISTICWILLIAM SALIBA
    AGE19
    CLUBArsenal
    INTERNATIONAL TEAMFrance
    POSITIONCentre-back
    STYLEBall playing defender
    CONTRACT EXPIRES2024
    ARSENAL APPS0
    ARSENAL GOALS0

    All the signs point to that club being Saint-Etienne, where Saliba could return to rediscover the sensations he had as he made a spectacular breakthrough into the professional game.

    Certainly, Claude Puel’s men are in need of an additional centre-back. Although a more experienced option would be ideal given their young side, the prospect of adding Saliba to their ranks would be a boost to fans as they face up to the prospect of a relegation battle.

    Former Arsenal man Mathieu Debuchy has even been publicly flirting with him.

    It is a deal that the player reportedly favours, too.

    But it is not just Saint-Etienne seeking the France U20 star.

    William Saliba snapshot:

    Nice have recently come into the market for a centre-back. Dante, the kingpin of their defence, has suffered a season-ending injury, leaving a massive void in the middle of their rearguard.

    With a lack of aerial power having been brutally exposed in his absence, Saliba would undoubtedly fit the profile of the type of defender they could use.

    Vieira wants his side to play in a technical style, and the Arsenal man can certainly do that.

    There are three key aspects of this deal that favour Nice. Firstly, they are in a far stronger financial position than Saint-Etienne. Additionally, their aim this season is European football as opposed to mere survival. Finally, Vieira’s relationship with Arsenal is necessarily a close one.

    Indeed, it is the former Gunners legend who is reportedly the driving force of this deal.

    Saliba’s time at Arsenal is certainly not up, but in the present conditions he is not going to be given a chance.

    Six months away are undoubtedly an attractive prospect, especially when there are strong clubs in his homeland chasing him.

    The loan move, though, promises to be crucial. If he does not find his form, it will be increasingly difficult for Arteta to trust him when he returns to London.

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