Mikel Arteta has sent Marseille packing over William Saliba, though that won’t stop Arsenal attempting to sign Lisandro Martinez for one major reason, per a report.
Arsenal fans may have been forgiven for wondering precisely what it was their club didn’t see in William Saliba. The centre-back has always been rated highly in his native France and has excelled in successive loan stints back to Ligue 1. However, he is yet to make his senior Arsenal debut despite being on the books for three years.
Saliba was nothing short of sensational with Marseille last season, helping guide Jorge Sampaoli’s side into the Champions League places.
The 21-year-old’s efforts were rewarded with a place in the Ligue 1 Team of the Season, along with scooping the Ligue 1 Young Player of the Year award.
TEAMtalk previously revealed Arsenal were finally planning to integrate Saliba into their plans starting this summer back in April.
However, following on from his fantastic loan spell, Marseille were recently linked with bringing the defender back on board.
Now, transfer guru Fabrizio Romano has shed light on what the future holds for the Frenchman.
Writing in his column for Caught Offside, Romano stated the plan remains for Saliba to stay in north London next year.
In fact, Saliba is now so highly thought of that Arsenal are hoping a contract extension will soon be signed. His current deal has two years left to run.
Marseille’s interest was confirmed by Romano. However, the journalist insisted they’re making no progress thanks to Arteta’s insistence Saliba be involved at the Emirates next season.
What’s more, Marseille have now begun to target alternatives with the Saliba route a dead end.
Yet despite Saliba adding to Arsenal’s defensive ranks, Romano noted a move for Ajax’s Lisandro Martinez remains firmly in their sights.
Lisandro Martinez trait in high demand
The Mirror stated the Amsterdam club will demand a £42m fee for the Argentine who is also on Man Utd’s radar.
Romano confirmed the interest of both clubs in his piece. He also detailed the reason Martinez is so highly thought of at Arsenal.
Martinez’s versatility is the key trait that have Gunners chiefs hot under the collar. He is capable of playing as a centre-back in a two or three, as well as left-back.
What’s more, he is a left-footer and elite left-footed centre-backs are at a premium at present.
Saliba trusted by Arsenal
The defender is clearly ready to make the step up in the Premier League if his prior seasons at Saint-Etienne and Marseille are anything to go by.
He would no doubt give Arteta a selection headache if the Spaniard sticks with a traditional back four.
Gabriel Magalhaes and Ben White built a formidable partnership last year. Though those types of conundrums are excellent ones for a manager to have.
Adding to his column on Twitter, Romano noted Saliba is trusted by Arsenal. He did acknowledge his situation could change in the event of a ‘crazy bid’. However, an offer on that scale is unlikely to come from Marseille.
All being well, Saliba will be a key part of Arsenal’s backline next season.