Arsenal are set to sent William Saliba on a season-long loan to a club in the Championship, according to multiple sources. The 19-year-old defender spent 2019/20 at his former club Saint-Etienne, but manager Mikel Arteta has labeled the time he spent there ‘a year lost’. Saliba played only 17 games, with the season in France being cut short due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
What’s more, the deal has caused some bad blood between Arsenal and the Ligue 1 side. Their head coach Claude Puel wanted Saliba in his team for the Coupe de France final on July 24th, but the loan ended on June 30th and the two clubs failed to agree a suitable extension to enable the player to take part in that game. The clubs threw words of blame at each other, with Saint-Etienne claiming it was Arsenal’s fault, while the Gunners responded by revealing that their demands for a special training regime to help the player recover from an injury at the time were not met with approval.
Saliba is now at Arsenal, but he wouldn’t be likely to get the game-time he requires to take the next step in his development. To that end, a loan move to the Championship is being devised, but identifying a suitable temporary destination for him is a complex task.
As explained by Football.London, Arsenal will closely consider all the options on offer, and choose Saliba’s next temporary club with care. The game-time he would be getting is, of course, a big factor, but it’s certainly not the only one. It will have to be a club with the right playing philosophy and enough patience to help a young player grow. Apart from Saliba’s loan back to Saint-Etienne, lessons have apparently been learnt from the time Eddie Nketiah spent playing second fiddle to Patrick Bamford at Leeds United last term, as well as Emile Smith-Rowe’s stint with a struggling Huddersfield Town team.