Arsenal defender William Saliba is close to joining Marseille on loan, according to recent reports.
Goal.com's Arsenal correspondent Charles Watts has reported that the French defender will spend the upcoming season at Marseille. Saliba joined the Gunners in the summer of 2019 for a reported fee of £27 million from St. Etienne.
However, in the two years since, he has failed to make a single competitive appearance for the north London club. Saliba was loaned back to St. Etienne immediately after his signing in 2019. He made 17 appareances for the French club in all competitions during the 2019-20 season.
He impressed in his time at St. Etienne and was tipped to be a part of the Gunners squad from the 2020-21 season. However, Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta did not feel the need to include him in the squad and Saliba was eventually loaned out in the winter transfer market.
He joined Nice on loan for the remainder of the 2020-21 season and made an instant impact by being voted Player of the Month for Nice in January. He had a successful half-season with the French club, making 20 Ligue 1 appearances, but has returned to Arsenal now. According to reports, the French defender is now set to leave for Marseille on loan.
Saliba headed to France to sign for Marseille
Saliba flew to Marseille on Tuesday morning to complete his medical and it has been reported that the deal is expected to be completed in the next few days. Marseille were hoping to strike a loan deal with an option to buy, but Arsenal are believed to have turned down the latter component of that request.
Saliba will have just two years left next summer on his original five-year contract at Arsenal, should he sign a season-long loan deal at Marseille. It would be an extremely unusual situation as the player would have then spent three years of his Arsenal career without playing a single minute of competitive football for the Gunners.
Arsenal are chasing another young defender in Ben White
Arsenal are currently in the market for Brighton defender Ben White. The Gunners finished in a disappointing eighth position in the Premier League last season and are looking to revamp their squad ahead of the new campaign.
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White has been valued at £50 million by the club from the south coast of England. Arsenal are also rumored to have agreed personal terms with the young defender and only have a few formalities left to complete the transfer. It would, however, be strange to see Arsenal loan out one Saliba, a talented, young defender already on their books, to bring in another expensive talent in White.
Arsenal's deal for White could see them take on Chelsea as the west London club are also reportedly interested in signing the English defender.