Arsenal signed William Saliba from Saint-Etienne last summer for a reported fee of £27 million, with an agreement in place for the player to remain at the Ligue 1 club on loan for the 2019/20 campaign.
The French top flight has been ended prematurely due to the Covid-19 pandemic with the 19-year-old playing 12 games. The cup finals are, however, still to go ahead, with Saint-Etienne poised to face champions Paris Saint-Germain for the Coupe de France trophy on July 24th. Saliba was due to arrive to north London at the end of June, and as Saint-Etienne head coach Claude Puel had planned for the defender to play in that final, talks were held between the clubs over a loan extension which would allow it; but in the end, an agreement wasn’t reached.
Saint-Etienne blamed Arsenal for the negotiations collapse, but the Gunners have now fired back. They’ve released a statement which claims that the plug was pulled on the talks due to the French club being unwilling to accept Arsenal’s terms, which related to a special training regime devised by the Arsenal medical staff. Saliba has only just returned from injury, and Arsenal wanted to have their own plans for his recovery put into action, which was something Saint-Etienne weren’t prepared to accept.
The result of the situation is that the young centre-back is now an Arsenal player full-time. As per the statement, the club understands his disappointment in not being able to play and fight for the trophy in the cup final, but Saliba also understands that the club have acted in his best interest, as well as protected those of their own. They stress that they were willing to find a way for him to stay in France and play in that game, but they simply couldn’t afford to yield their demands up and put the player to unnecessary risk.