William Saliba will head to Arsenal in the coming days and miss the Coupe de France final against Paris Saint Germain. Saint Etienne are said to be furious with the way the Gunners have behaved, according to Get French Football News.
Saint Etienne are said to be furious with the Gunners over a breakdown in negotiations to allow the 19 year old to participate in the French cup final. It is being reported that had Saliba played in the final, he would have made 17 starts for Les Verts this season which would trigger a 2 million payment by Arsenal. The North London club are said to have been happy to let the player take part in the showpiece but unwilling to pay the additional fee.
The French club believe that Arsenal are reneging on the terms of the contract agreed by both clubs last summer. It is understood that Arsenal initially wanted the payment clause to be active if Saliba made 30 appearances over the course of the season but wanted to have a final say on the player’s ability to play more than once a week.
This was pointed out as being incongruent by Saint Etienne and so the two clubs agreed that the fee would be payable if the French centre back started in one third of the club’s games over the course of the campaign.
Ligue 1 was ended prematurely due to the coronavirus and if not for this, Saint Etienne would have played 52 domestic matches in total. Due to the season being ended early, Les Verts’ total count for games this season stands at 42. With 16 starts in the current campaign, Saliba has already played more than a third of the season and so Saint Etienne believe the conditions necessary for the fee to be paid have been triggered.
It is understood that Arsenal are standing firm over the fact that Saliba has still played only 16 games out of a potential 52 that were supposed to be played and so the 2 million does not need to be paid. They are not willing to exclude the number of games missed due to coronavirus from the calculation over the percentage of starts Saliba has made this season.
The only way Saint Etienne could have received the bonus is if the young centre back played in the cup final which would have been his 17th start of the season. This would have seen him play in one third of their games they were supposed to play in the current campaign.
Les Verts believe that Arsenal have hid behind ‘necessary’ medical protocols that would have forced Saliba away from cup final preparations when the reality was that they were primarily focussed on not paying the bonus fee.
A French agent had the follow to say to Get French Football News on this issue:
“The conduct shown in the last few weeks is the latest reminder that this Arsenal is a thousand leagues away from the one presided over by Arsene Wenger in every way.”
It is unclear whether the French club plans to take legal action against Arsenal at this point. They firmly believe they are owed 2 million by the Gunners as Saliba played in more than one third of the 42 games they have played in total this season and the ten games they missed out on playing were due to the pandemic which was completely out of their hands.