Marseille boss Jorge Sampaoli says he hopes to keep Arsenal defender William Saliba at the Ligue 1 club this summer.
The 21-year-old signed for Arsenal in 2019 from Saint Etienne on a long-term contract. Then boss Unai Emery paid around £27m for the centre-back and insisted the Gunners beat a number of other sides to sign the Frenchman.
However, Saliba has not kicked a ball for the club having being sent out on loan. The last couple of seasons have been spent in Ligue 1 with Saint-Etienne and Marseille.
And Saliba has impressed in the south of France, starting all but one of their 36 Ligue 1 games so far. He has also featured prominently in the Europa Conference League and has become a firm favourite under Sampaoli.
And the Chilean boss has made it clear where he stands on keeping Saliba for next season.
Speaking to Get French Football news, Sampaoli said: “I hope that there is a possibility for us to keep a player like him, who knows the team.
“I don’t know if it depends on the club, William or Arsenal… I don’t know the possibilities in this case.”
“There is always a chance,” Saliba told Le Parisien. “I do not hide that I am very happy in Marseille.
“I have developed, I have passed a milestone. If I make it into France’s squad it’s thanks to Marseille, because there is a lot of visibility.
Saliba’s good form has been recognised at international level and he made his debut for France in March.
Saliba came on as a substitute in a 2-1 win over Ivory Coast and then started in the 5-0 victory against South Africa.
William Saliba wants to fight for his place at Arsenal
William Saliba wants his Arsenal return and is ready to fight for his place in the Arsenal back four
Mikel Arteta said: “We are really aware of what he’s doing, how he’s developing.”
Saliba aims to fight for his first-team place, despite the solid partnership of Ben White and Gabriel Magalhaes in defence.
Whether or not Arteta sees that course of action as the best for both parties remains to be seen.
He is still under contract at The Emirates until 2024, but at some point he will want to feature for them or move on permanently.
That point may well come this summer, but until he’s net with Arteta his dream of playing in the red and white of the Gunners remains.