The transfer of William Saliba to Arsenal is “on track”, Saint-Etienne supervisory board president Bernard Caiazzo has told Le Progres.
It appears that the Gunners have beaten a late attempt by Tottenham Hotspur at snatching the deal, even though Spurs reportedly offered more money. Saliba’s wish to come to the Emirates instead eventually prevailed.
This is the first time that an official source has been quoted on the matter, though links between Arsenal and the 18-year-old defender have been reported a number of times before. A few days ago, a report by Sky Sports said that the deal was close, but that the Ligue 1 side had been waiting for a bid from Spurs before making a final decision. They followed that up with the news that the deal had been agreed.
The fee the club will be paying is set at a base of €25 million with a possible €5 million in add-ons, which means that the player is likely to cost £27 million in total. That may be considered a bit expensive considering that Saliba is very young, but that is, unfortunately, what the transfer market of today commands. If you want a talented player who is being chased by other clubs too, you need to be prepared to pay up to stay competitive.
Meanwhile, the terms of the deal say that Saliba will be returning to Saint-Etienne on a season-long loan after he completes his move to north London, which means he will not effectively be an Arsenal player before he turns 19 and the next year’s pre-season is underway.
It is believed that the deal should be completed some time next week, after the Gunners return from their tour across the Atlantic.
If everything goes to plan and Saliba justifies the club’s faith and investment, Arsenal could have a proper centre-back sorted for the next decade.