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Arteta says Saliba should play the French cup final before heading to Arsenal

Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta has said William Saliba should take part in the Coupe de France final between Saint Etienne and Paris Saint Germain in his pre-match press conference ahead of Arsenal’s clash with Norwich City.

William Saliba was signed by Arsenal from Saint Etienne last summer for £27 million but was loaned back to the French club for one season. The Frenchman has had an injury hit campaign but Saint Etienne’s results with and without the 19 year old are stark and illuminate his importance to the club. The club’s win rate in Ligue 1 with Saliba in the team is 33.3% compared to just 20% when he is absent. He has made 17 appearances for Les Verts this season with 12 of those starts coming in the league. 

Arsenal remain locked in talks with Saint Etienne to decide whether Saliba will be a part of the French team’s squad for the French cup final.

On being asked about his view on the matter, Arteta said:

“I think he needs to stay there. We’ve got an agreement with Saint-Etienne, he’s been over there all year.”

“He has earned the right to play in that final if the 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.”

On whether he has spoken to Saliba and what his assessment of the player’s season is, he said:

“I spoke with him a few times. He has been around a few times here as well. We have been following his season. As a young player, he had a difficult season with injuries that he had but it is part of his process.”

On what he expects from Saliba next season, he said:

“I know how high the expectations are on him for next year but we have to bear in mind the age that he’s at and what he has done in the past, and make sure we create the right environment for him so he can keep going as a player.”

Saliba cannot play for Arsenal if he were to link up with the club instead of staying in France but would be able to start training with them. Saint Etienne hope to secure a one month extension on the player’s loan from the North London club so that he can take part in the cup final. Based on what the Gunners head coach has said, the feeling is that the loan will be successfully extended and Saliba will join the Gunners squad after the showpiece in France.

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