Fabrizio Romano reveals French overtures towards untouchable Arsenal star set for new Gunners deal

William Saliba with Arsenal team-mates, August 2022

Transfer expert Fabrizio Romano has revealed that Marseille enquired about signing Arsenal defender William Saliba in the summer but found him untouchable.  

Saliba, 21, moved to the Emirates when Arsenal paid Saint-Etienne around £27m in the summer of 2019. However, he failed to kick a ball for the senior side during his first three years on the books. The rangy centre-back was loaned back to Saint-Etienne for the 2019-2020 campaign, making 11 starts among 12 Ligue 1 outings.

He enjoyed 17 outings in total for Les Verts but it was not enough to earn a spot in the Gunners side. The Parisian was left out of the north London outfit’s squad for 2020-21, moving to Nice on loan in January 2021.

It proved to be a beneficial move as the youngster started 20 times in the French top flight. And he was again back in the land of his birth last term, with Marseille taking him on a year-long loan.

Saliba was backed by the Stade Velodrome club, making 36 league starts and 52 appearances in all competitions. Gunners boss Mikel Arteta took note, opting to start the starlet in the season-opener against Crystal Palace.

Saliba responded with a superb display and has played every minute of Arsenal’s eight top-flight games in 2022-2023.

The France international recently suggested it was the correct decision to let him leave on loan. And, according to Romano, Marseille were keen to turn his stay into a permanent transfer.

“Olympique Marseille had a direct meeting with Saliba’s agent in August,” he told CaughtOffside. “But then it was impossible to negotiate on the fee with Arsenal as they considered William untouchable. It was not even a direct talk.”

Superb Saliba expected to land new Arsenal deal

Saliba has slipped seamlessly into the Arsenal starting XI. He is part of a side topping the Premier League table after seven wins from eight games.

While the jury is still out on whether Arteta’s charges can maintain their push, there is renewed optimism. They have conceded only eight league goals to date while looking threatening in attack, scoring 20 times.

Saliba has played his part and Romano is adamant the club will look to extend his current deal before it expires in 2024.

“There were French clubs tracking Saliba when he was at Saint-Etienne,” he added. “But Arsenal have been great as they trusted him since day one and contract talks will take place at the right moment.”

Saliba is part of an exciting crop of youngsters at Arsenal. They were pipped to fourth place by north London rivals Tottenham last season.

And that will have made Saturday’s 3-1 triumph in the North London Derby even more satisfying.

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