Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has given an update to the official club website on the situation involving the Gunners, loanee William Saliba, and loan club Saint-Etienne with regards to the French Cup final.
Arsenal beat Tottenham to the signing of the 19-year-old centre-back last summer in a £27million deal from Saint-Etienne (BBC Sport), but loaned him back to the Ligue 1 club for the entirety of the 2019-20 season as part of the deal.
Saliba missed a large part of the campaign through injury but impressed on his return against Monaco at the end of January and duly returned to the starting XI prior to the football suspension and eventual premature end to the Ligue 1 season.
While the French league campaign is over, the French Cup final is to go ahead at the Stade de France on 24 July, and Saint-Etienne are up against Paris Saint-Germain, and his loan club was hoping he’d feature.
However, Arsenal and Saint-Etienne both confirmed this week that an agreement for Saliba has not been reached, while the French club criticised the Gunners for their “unacceptable” demands.
Arsenal responded by claiming that Saint-Etienne were unwilling to follow a specialised training plan for Saliba as he has struggled with injuries this season, and according to BUT! in France, Saliba was desperate to play in the final and his “disappointment is immense”.
When asked about the decision by the Arsenal media team, Arteta replied: “As you know, both clubs had some conversations, at the moment they haven’t reached any agreement for him to be able to play in the final.
“At the end of the day he is our player and we want the best for him. We want to protect him and we want him in the best possible condition for us as well when he joins us but it is something that is being dealt with at club level.”
It’s a tricky situation as it would be great for Saliba to lift a major trophy at such a young age, a great platform upon which to subsequently launch his career at Arsenal.
However, what if he picked up a serious injury in that game, or in training beforehand, which meant the Gunners would be without his services for a long period of time?
In this case, given no agreement appears to have been met to safeguard the player in terms of training plans, it’s an unfortunate but reasonable decision.