Barcelona and Milan were interested in Arsenal's Saliba this summer

Karan Tejwani
Karan Tejwani 4 Oct 2022 10:15 BST 3 min read
William Saliba, Arsenal, 2022/23

Arsenal defender William Saliba has had a flying start to the season at Arsenal, and he’s been one of the league’s best defenders so far in this campaign.

The Gunners sit on top of the league and a lot of that has to do with the solid defensive base they have built, with Saliba right at the heart of the team.

The Frenchman has spent the last few seasons away on loan having joined Arsenal in the summer of 2019, but is finally getting a chance with the first-team in this campaign under Mikel Arteta.

There were still questions over his future over the summer given he had spent so much time away, and others across Europe were monitoring the situation in the hope of making a move.

Saliba was of interest to others

Saliba spent time on loan at three different Ligue 1 clubs since 2019 – Saint-Etienne, Nice and Marseille – but is finally getting his chances at Arsenal in this campaign.

This summer, according to Fabrizio Romano, clubs were circling to make a move for Saliba, including Marseille, where he enjoyed his best football last season.

Romano: “In the summer, Marseille wanted to try something special for Saliba. He was very happy on loan at Marseille, and there was a meeting with his agent, but for Arsenal there was no chance of a discussion – he was considered untouchable. Saliba was happy with this stance, as he could see he was a key part of the Arsenal project”

Saliba was excellent in the last campaign and was named in the Ligue 1 Team of the Season, and also earned a call-up to the French senior national team.

Other than that, Milan and Barcelona were also interested in making a move for Saliba as they looked to strengthen their defence in the summer.

Romano said: “There were other clubs interested – I can mention AC Milan, who looked at Saliba as an alternative to Sven Botman. There were never negotiations, they knew he was untouchable to Arsenal.

“Barcelona also considered Saliba – he was an alternative in case they could not complete the Jules Kounde deal. Kounde was the priority for Barca, but Saliba was also on their list and they were prepared to make a proposal in case they never managed to sign Kounde.”

Now, Saliba is a mainstay in the Arsenal team and fans expect him to be at the heart of the Gunners defence for many years to come, given his great start to the season.