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William Saliba set to return to Arsenal after St Etienne ‘fail to honour’ agreement

William Saliba will miss the French cup final against Paris Saint Germain as Arsenal and Saint Etienne have been unable to come to an agreement that would have seen the 19 year old extend his stay with the French club by one month.

The French defender has been training with the Saint Etienne squad and was looking forward to taking part in the cup final. Les Verts have hit out at Arsenal and claimed that the Gunners imposed unacceptable sporting and financial conditions which led to a breakdown in communication between the two clubs.

Saint Etienne issued the following statement:

“AS Saint-Étienne 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 course in Green with such a match. Alas, ASSE, which simply wanted the extension of the initial loan until July 24, could not find an agreement in the evening with Arsenal to allow the defender to properly prepare and play this meeting, the English club imposing absolutely unacceptable sports and financial conditions.”

In Arsenal’s initial deal with Saint Etienne when they signed Saliba, one of the clauses in the contract was that the Gunners would have to pay the French club just under £2.3 million if the young centre back made 17 or more starts in his season on loan in France. 

The player has started 16 games for Les Verts in all competitions this season. Were he to start the Coup de France final against PSG, Arsenal would be obligated to pay Saint Etienne almost £2.3 million. The Gunners hierarchy would like to see Saliba play in the final but do not see the value in forking out that kind of money for a single game.

Arsenal issued the following statement regarding this situation:

“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.”

Saliba will now head to Arsenal and begin training with the club. He will be ineligible to play any part in the current season but will look to prepare himself for the start of the next campaign. 

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