St Etienne have put the blame for William Saliba’s deadline day frustration on Arsenal, with the Ligue 1 outfit claiming they had a loan deal lined up “long before the transfer window closed”. The 19-year-old defender was expected to head out of Emirates Stadium before the summer market closed for business.
He only officially linked up with the Gunners over the summer, having spent the 2019-20 campaign with St Etienne.
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Big things were expected of the teenager in north London, but Mikel Arteta is not yet in a position where a relatively untested talent can be thrust into Premier League action. That left a door open for more important minutes to be collected elsewhere, with St Etienne eager to welcome a familiar face back onto their books. They claim to have put everything in place at their end, only for delays on Arsenal’s part to see the window slam shut with Saliba still in England.
A statement on the French club’s official website read: “Long before the transfer window closed, AS Saint-Etienne had reached an agreement with William Saliba and accepted Arsenal’s offer for a one-season loan. “Unfortunately, all the administrative conditions could not be met in time, in England, for the completion of the deal.
“The disappointment is great for ASSE and William Saliba, who was particularly determined to return to a club where he has flourished.” Saliba, who had also seen a loan move to Fulham mooted at one stage, must now focus on trying to force his way into Arteta’s plans before the January window opens.
That may prove difficult, with the Arsenal boss revealing that the youngster still has work to do before he can be considered for competitive outings. The Gunners boss has said when asked to explain Saliba’s lack of action so far: “He had a year last year where Arsenal loaned him to Saint-Etienne and that was a transition year for him.
“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 canceled, he didn’t have that year. “He needs that year of transition and we are trying to make the right decisions for him to give him the best transitional year for him to have the player we want in our future.”
Arsenal has been favoring David Luiz, Kieran Tierney, and summer signing Gabriel Magalhaes in a three-man defensive unit that remains a work in progress.