William Saliba is now joining Arsenal
According to Ligue 1 side St Etienne, 19-year-old defender William Saliba is now on his way to Arsenal.
Arsenal signed Saliba last summer, however the Gunners agreed to allow the defender to remain with Les Verts for the 2019-20 season.
While the French league season was ended several weeks ago, the French Cup final is still poised to go ahead.
St Etienne are due to take on PSG in the Coupe De France showpiece on July 24.
However, St Etienne will have to go into that game without Saliba.
St Etienne slam Arsenal after ‘unacceptable sports & financial conditions’
On Tuesday, in his press conference before the Norwich game, Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta was asked about Saliba’s situation.
At the time of the question, Saliba was still a St Etienne player, as his loan agreement only expired at midnight on June 30.
Arteta indicated that he was happy for the teenager to remain in France to play in the final. Arteta said:
He has earned his right to play that final if their manager wants to do that.
I think we have to give him the opportunity to do that, to enjoy that, and we can have him after that.
Hours later, however, St Etienne posted an article on their website confirming that they failed to agree a contract extension with Arsenal.
St Etienne’s message read:
AS Saint-Etienne was pleased to learn yesterday Tuesday that Mikel Arteta, Arsenal coach, was ready to leave William Saliba at the disposal of the club until the final of the Coupe de France, July 24 next.
William Saliba had been training for several days with Claude Puel’s group and was obviously very enthusiastic about the idea of finishing his time in Green with such a match.
Sadly, ASSE, who simply wanted the extension of the initial loan until July 24, could not find an agreement this evening with Arsenal to allow the defender to properly prepare and play this match, the English club imposing absolutely unacceptable sports and financial conditions.
🔴 L’#ASSE n’a pu trouver d’accord avec Arsenal pour permettre à William #Saliba de bien préparer et jouer la finale de la @coupedefrance, le club anglais imposant des conditions sportives et financières absolument inacceptables !
📄 Lire le communiqué complet 👇
— AS Saint-Étienne (@ASSEofficiel) June 30, 2020
What do we know about Arsenal’s demands?
William Saliba played 12 times for St Etienne in Ligue 1 this season, and 16 games in all competitions.
According to the Mirror, if Saliba played one more match, another payment would have been triggered:
The two sides have failed to come to an agreement over a clause which could have seen Arsenal pay £2m if he started on July 24.
Saliba has made 16 appearances this term – a 17th would have forced the payment.
Saint-Etienne wanted an extension of terms, but Arsenal chiefs decided they would not accept if the ‘starts’ clause, leaving them liable to pay out, remained.
— Mirror Football (@MirrorFootball) July 1, 2020
Arsenal accuse St Etienne of putting William Saliba’s health at risk
On Wednesday morning, Arsenal hit back against the accusations from St Etienne.
According to the Gunners, St Etienne’s actions lead to the breakdown after the French club failed to agree “a clear training plan” as Saliba is returning from an injury. The statement read:
Throughout our discussions with St Etienne, our aim has been to protect the welfare of William Saliba as well as the interests of Arsenal Football Club, while honouring the terms of the loan.
Despite the loan ending on June 30, we were willing to find a way for William to play in the [French] cup final on July 24, despite having no contractual obligation to do so.
As William is returning from injury, we asked that St Etienne follow a clear training plan with William in close collaboration with us, to ensure he is fully fit for the start of next season.
To our surprise we were unable to reach agreement to this plan which was proposed by our medical experts, and we are simply not prepared to risk the welfare of an Arsenal player.
While it was not our primary concern, and ultimately not relevant as our training plan was not accepted, we also expected not to be financially disadvantaged by extending the loan. This was also not acceptable to St Etienne.
We know this is a disappointment for William but he understands we are working to protect his long-term interests and those of Arsenal.
Club statement: William Saliba
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) July 1, 2020
What’s next for William Saliba?
With his loan at St Etienne now over, William Saliba is expected to move to London to begin his life with Arsenal.
William Saliba will be unable to feature for the Gunners until the start of the 2020-21 season.
However, the French centre-half could begin training at London Colney soon.
Get all the Latest news, Breaking headlines,Sport, Education, Finance, Gists, Jobs, Music/Video, Technology and Top stories in real time in Nigeria and around the world.