William Saliba set for Arsenal return after loan extension plan falls through


Arsenal could not reach agreement with Saint-Etienne over a training plan for the teenage defender.

Arsenal have responded after Saint-Etienne accused the Premier League club of imposing “unacceptable sports and financial conditions” during negotiations over William Saliba extending his loan with the French side.

The defender will now return to England after no agreement could be reached between the teams over the centre back remaining in France to allow him to play in the French cup final on July 24.

On Tuesday, a club statement from Saint-Etienne read: “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.”

Gunners boss Mikel Arteta, speaking ahead of the visit of Norwich on Wednesday, had admitted he would like the teenager to continue his development by playing in the final against Paris Saint-Germain.

Mikel Arteta felt Arsenal defender William Saliba should have remained at Saint-Etienne to feature in the French cup final
Mikel Arteta felt Arsenal defender William Saliba should have remained at Saint-Etienne to feature in the French cup final (John Walton/PA)

But Arsenal have insisted they are unhappy with the training plan in place for Saliba by the Ligue 1 side after he missed three months of the season with a broken foot.

A club statement read: “Throughout our discussions with Saint-Etienne, our aim has been to protect the welfare of William Saliba as well as the interests of Arsenal FC, 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 Saint-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 Saint-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 return to the Emirates, but will be unable to feature for the Gunners during the remainder of the 2019-20 season.