Loan possible for Arsenal’s William Saliba

The 19-year-old saw a deadline-day loan move to former club Saint-Etienne fall through but the PA news agency understands he could yet spend the season in the second tier.

Saliba joined Arsenal from Saint-Etienne last summer for a reported £27million – but the agreement also meant he would remain with the French side for the 2019-20 campaign.

A number of injury problems, coupled with the cancellation of the Ligue 1 season following the coronavirus outbreak, meant Saliba’s final year with the club did not go as planned as he made just 17 appearances.

He returned to Arsenal before Saint-Etienne’s rescheduled Coupe de France final against Paris St Germain on July 24 with the two clubs unable to agree the best training regime for the player.

It was widely expected that Saliba would become a member of Mikel Arteta’s first-team squad at Arsenal heading into the current season but he has yet to make his competitive debut for the club, with summer signing Gabriel Magalhaes leapfrogging him in the pecking order.

Arteta has been asked about Saliba’s continued absence on a number of occasions and it is believed language issues and the death of his mother have contributed to the France Under-20 international’s slow adaptation to life in England.

“For many reasons, that wasn’t the transition year that he needed because he had a lot of injuries, some personal issues and also with Covid and the French league getting cancelled, he didn’t have that year,” Arteta said recently when asked about Saliba’s loan spell.

“He needs that year of transition and we are trying to make the right decisions for him to give him the best transitional year to have the player we want in our future.”

That year looked like once again taking place at Saint-Etienne, only for the French side to point the finger at Arsenal when a deal could not be struck in time for Monday’s deadline.

“Unfortunately, all the administrative conditions could not be met in time, in England, for the completion of the deal,” a club statement read.

“The disappointment is great for ASSE and William Saliba, who was particularly determined to return to a club where he has flourished.”

However, the PA news agency understands Saliba – whose only appearances for the Gunners to date have been in pre-season friendlies – may still leave the Emirates Stadium.

There is a domestic-only transfer window still running, which can see Premier League clubs trade with English Football League sides until October 16 and it is understood Arsenal are now strongly considering the option of loaning Saliba to a second-tier club.

Arsenal completed the signing midfielder Thomas Partey from Atletico Madrid on transfer deadline day, while Lucas Torreira moved the other way on loan and Matteo Guendouzi signed for Hertha Berlin on a season-long loan.

Saliba in line for Arsenal debut

Saliba, 19, signed for the Gunners last summer from Saint-Etienne but spent the 2019/20 season back on loan at the Ligue 1 side.

A number of injuries curtailed his campaign, as did the early end of the French football season due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Saliba also missed out on playing in the Coupe de France final after a disagreement between Saint-Etienne and Arsenal over his training regime.

That saw the teenager begin training at Arsenal’s London Colney campus in July – but he was somewhat surprisingly omitted from the matchday squad for both opening two Premier League wins against Fulham and West Ham.

Instead, summer arrival Gabriel started the two games, despite only completing his move from Lille on September 1.

Saliba could finally be in line to make his Arsenal debut in Wednesday’s Carabao Cup third-round clash at Leicester – as Arteta heeds patience with the defender’s integration into the team.

“I think William is doing really well,” he said.

“He is adapting to the country, adapting to our club. We have to bear in mind that he had a really challenging season last year with the amount of injuries that he had.

“But he is a player that is going to be really important in our future, things sometimes take some time and we have to respect that.”

While Gabriel has impressed since his arrival, Arteta believes the experience and success of David Luiz can be helpful to both the 22-year-old and Saliba moving forward.

Asked how good it was to have someone of Luiz’s stature for the young defensive duo to learn from Arteta replied: “It is great.

“I think he is a really good role model for them, for who David is as a person and as a player and everything he has achieved in the game – I think they are lucky to have him around.”

Arsenal, like many top-flight clubs, will make wholesale changes for the cup tie – but in Arteta they have a man with a fine track record in the competition.

As part of Pep Guardiola’s backroom staff at Manchester City the Spaniard won the League Cup in both 2018 and 2019 – beating Arsenal 3-0 in the former – and he insists the tournament is taken seriously by the biggest Premier League sides.

“I think it is,” he said. “The last few seasons I think this competition for the clubs has raised (importance), there is only one winner in the Premier League.

“That leaves a lot of frustrated clubs and now everybody wants a title and you can see in the last few years that teams have used strong line-ups and the types of finals we have seen in recent years.”

Arsenal reported to have agreed personal terms with Gabriel Magalhaes

Lots of reports coming in to say that Arsenal have agreed on personal terms with Gabriel Magalhaes.

The deal is somewhere between £22 and £27 million for the Brazilian defender, who is expected to join from Lille on a 5-year contract by the end of the week

Gabriel played a key part in helping Lille finish fourth in Ligue Une and secure Europa League football next season.

Arteta has been keen to add another left-footed center-back to his squad since Pablo Mari was ruled out with a serious ankle injury and Gabriel fits the bill.

The deal should be completed in time to see the South American line-up alongside William Saliba in the Community shield, which is less than two weeks away.