Premier League • England

Arsenal resolve to be tested further as league champions join race for €30m star

Halil Dervisoglu battling with William Saliba

Inter Milan are the latest to tag onto the growing queue of clubs ready to test Arsenal’s resolve for William Saliba in the summer, according to reports.

Saliba’s Arsenal career has been rather unusual so far. They signed him as a promising talent from Saint-Etienne in 2019 before loaning him back to the French side. It was then thought he would be able to fight for his place back at the Emirates Stadium.

But that was not to be. After six months frozen out, he returned to France, this time with Nice. And after his spell there ended, there was once again no room for him back in north London. Thus, for the present campaign, Saliba is representing Marseille.

The defender is finding his form with the Ligue 1 giants, who may want to keep him. But they have no official option to buy and there is a feeling Arsenal may finally reintegrate him in the summer.

But Saliba has been in this situation before and there are no guarantees. Therefore, a number of clubs are looking into a summer deal.

The calibre of Saliba’s suitors should send another reminder to Arsenal about what they may be missing out on. He was recently linked with Real Madrid as part of an elaborate scheme involving PSG forward Kylian Mbappe.

Madrid’s interest has now been verified by, who add both Milan clubs into the mix too.

AC Milan were unable to sign a centre-back in January despite wanting to. Simon Kjaer should have returned from his injury by the summer, but they could still plan to add another option.

Arsenal savings on Aubamayeng will enable a huge summer

They may have lost out big for now, but in the long run, Arsenal may have set themselves up for success.

But it is their city rivals Inter who are now muscling into the race to sign Saliba.

The Serie A champions’ rearguard currently consists of Milan Skriniar, Alessandro Bastoni, Stefan De Vrij and Andrea Ranocchia. But the latter is out of contract in the summer; Skriniar and De Vrij will be entering the final year of their terms by then too.

Inter could therefore target Saliba to help evolve their backline. However, think Arsenal will be holding out for at least €30m.

Still only 20 years old, Saliba is under contract with his parent club until 2024.

Ten of the biggest deals that didn’t happen in the January transfer window

Another Arsenal star to follow Saliba route?

While it was Saliba switching Arsenal for a Ligue 1 club in the summer, at least temporarily, it could be Nicolas Pepe at the end of the season.

Marseille have also been tipped to take the Ivory Coast winger, but they face competition.

According to L’Equipe, Lyon and Marseille both reportedly came forward with proposals to bring Pepe back to France on deadline day. However, both attempts failed and the player subsequently stayed put.

Nevertheless, Pepe’s situation at Arsenal remains unclear heading firmly into the second part of the season.

Should his situation remain the same, Lyon and Marseille reportedly feel they can seal a deal for Pepe at the end of the season.

He will have only two years left on his contract by then. As a result, Arsenal face a decision over his future soon in any case.

READ MORELyon chief Jean-Michel Aulas says Arsenal man ‘more accessible’ to sign than Karim Benzema