Arsenal make massive Saliba decision

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William Saliba has had an interesting season.

The defender joined Arsenal in the summer transfer window, spending £27 million to secure his signature from Saint-Etienne.

The 19-year-old was immediately loaned back to the Ligue 1 club, with whom he has spent the campaign.

Saliba has played 12 times in Ligue 1, sustaining two injuries throughout the campaign, first a hamstring problem and then a metatarsal fracture.

He has started the last seven games – Saint Etienne haven’t won any of them – but he is now set to return to north London.

Arsenal have issued a statement on their website, insisting that they are frustrated with a lack of progress in negotiations with the club.

They insist that he should be protected throughout his rehabilitation from injury, and are not prepared to risk his fitness.

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.

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"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.”

GIVEMESPORT’S Harry Sherlock says…

This makes complete sense.

Arsenal need to ensure that Saliba has everything at his disposal to recover properly from his injuries and grow as a player.

His return to the Gunners means that it is likely he will get a head-start on preparations for working under manager Mikel Arteta in the 2020/21 season.

Saliba has, of course, endured a disappointing season because St Etienne have; they have won just eight games all season and took 30 points from 28 games.

He offers another option, though, and Arsenal will be able to see just how good he is when he returns to the Emirates Stadium.

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