Premier League • England

Arsenal to enter talks ‘soon’ over impressive defender as new option emerges

Halil Dervisoglu battling with William Saliba

Arsenal are awaiting talks with Marseille over the future of loanee William Saliba, according to one European reporter.

Saliba’s Arsenal career has been strange to say the least since his transfer to the club in 2019. The centre-back is still yet to make a senior appearance for the club. He has spent time on loan back in France with Saint-Etienne, Nice and now Marseille.

Given that Arsenal paid a reported £27m for him, it has been surprising that they are yet to entrust him with a first-team role. His form for Marseille so far this term has further emphasised those questions.

Saliba has started 12 games in Ligue 1 and four in the Europa League. He recently kept the likes of Lionel Messi at bay in a goalless draw with Paris Saint-Germain, which he described as the best game of his career.

Arsenal are watching his progress and a recent report revealed Saliba has his own plans to return to north London. There were claims of him taking additional English lessons, despite already understanding the language, and keeping in contact with some teammates.

Still under contract with Arsenal in 2024 and only 20 years of age, there is time yet for Saliba to prove himself with his parent club. However, Marseille could be about to give them a big decision to make.

According to transfer journalist Erkem Konur, Marseille want to keep Saliba on a permanent basis. They do not have an official option to buy him, so negotiations would have to start from scratch.

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In theory, Arsenal can set whatever asking price they like for the Frenchman. Marseille will have their own ideas of what they deem reasonable and will be hoping to come to an agreement.

Konur claims talks with Arsenal are set to commence “soon” over Saliba’s future.

It would be a regret for Arsenal to lose him without ever using him. However, if they have no place in their plans for him, it may be worth considering cashing in on a significant investment while his form justifies a decent price tag.

William-Saliba-Marseilles-passes ball against St Etienne July 2021

It will also be interesting to compare where Arsenal and Marseille finish in their respective leagues by the end of the season. The Gunners are aiming to return to the European places after missing out for the first time in the 21st Century last season. They are currently fifth in the Premier League after 11 matches.

Marseille, meanwhile, are fourth in Ligue 1 after 13 games, all but one of which Saliba has been involved in.

Arsenal return chances rated for Saliba

What the long-term holds for Saliba remains unclear. However, one way in which he will not be returning to Arsenal is via a January recall.

Telefoot journalist Julien Maynard recently revealed the idea of Arsenal recalling Saliba from his loan midway through the season is “out of the question”.

Given his impressive form in France, it may have been an idea to consider. But the Gunners are currently sticking with a centre-back pairing of Ben White and Gabriel Magalhaes.

It remains to be seen whether Saliba could dislodge them in the long-term. But for now, he must continue his development with Marseille.

His temporary takers are keen to make that a long-term thing, but only time will tell whether Arsenal decide to grant them their wish.

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