Reports: Arsenal’s William Saliba wanted to return to Saint-Etienne this summer

Mikel Arteta has not included William Saliba in Arsenal's Europa League squad.
Mikel Arteta has not included William Saliba in Arsenal's Europa League squad.


Arsenal starlet William Saliba was desperate to secure a loan move back to Saint-Etienne this summer, Claude Puel, the Ligue 1 side’s manager, has revealed. Saliba joined the Ligue 1 side in 2016 and made his debut for the Saints in the 2018/19 season, where he made 19 appearances in all competitions.

Arsenal monitored the player during the entire season and fought off stiff competition from Tottenham Hotspur to sign Saliba a year later. The Frenchman joined the Gunners in the summer of 2019 but was immediately loaned back to his parent club for the rest of the season.

The Frenchman returned to the Emirates after the end of his loan spell this season and was handed the Arsenal number 4 shirt, previously worn by Per Mertesacker, Cesc Fabregas, and Patrick Vieira.

It was supposed to be the start of a new journey for Saliba, but while the Frenchman appeared for the Gunners in the pre-season, he is yet to make his official debut for Arsenal. Interestingly, the Frenchman has not been included in Arsenal’s Europa League squad, which has raised questions about whether he is a part of Mikel Arteta’s plans right now.

Another loan move back to Saint Etienne was rumoured to be around the corner, but it never materialized. Now the Ligue 1 club’s manager has revealed that Saliba was very close to leaving Arsenal in the summer.

Saliba hoping to make the Arsenal Premier League squad for the season

Puel took charge at the Saints around a year ago and, having seen Saliba play in his team, was keen for a reunion with the Frenchman this season. The Saints manager has revealed that the club tried their best to secure another loan move for the Arsenal player, who also had his heart set on a return.

"We tried. He had a great desire to return. The club is a bit like his family and friends. His adaptation would have been immediate," said Claude Puel.

However, Puel's statement seems to indicate that Saint-Etienne and Arsenal failed to reach an agreement over a potential transfer and the loan move fell through. "It would have been done if all the conditions had been met," revealed Puel.

There were talks of Arsenal trying to send Saliba on loan to the Championship, but any such move failed to see the light of the day before the end of the domestic transfer window on Friday. Now the Frenchman will be eagerly waiting for October 20th when Arsenal announce their Premier League squad, hoping that he can make the cut.

Edited by Ritwik Kumar
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