Premier League • England

Arteta puts transfer block on £20m Arsenal exit to Real Madrid as Ancelotti ‘worry’ continues

Mikel Arteta pointing with both hands

Arsenal have reportedly maintained their stance that William Saliba will not leave Arsenal for good in the summer, amid fresh Real Madrid interest.

The centre-back has endured a tough time of his Gunners career so far, his best moments coming away from north London. Indeed, he has enjoyed spells back at former club Saint-Etienne, Nice and now Marseille more.

However, with his Arsenal contract expiring in 2024, a decision from the Gunners will soon be due over his future.

Frenchman Saliba is impressing at the heart of Marseille’s defence. In fact, he has missed only one Ligue 1 match, otherwise playing every minute in the top flight.

As such, Defensa Central has claimed that Saliba’s performances have attracted the attention of Real Madrid.

Los Blancos boss Carlo Ancelotti has reportedly made a new defender a top transfer priority and has a ‘worry’ about the position. While he feels content with Eder Militao and David Alaba as his main centre-back pairing, he wants more competition.

Indeed, he is aware that Alaba, who arrived as a free agent from Bayern Munich, can also provide excellent cover at left-back.

And behind his first-choice pairing, Ancelotti wants more competition for Nacho Fernandez.

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As a result, he has identified France Under-21 international Saliba as a potential target. However, Defensa Central adds that Gunners boss Mikel Arteta is standing firm over the player, who the report claims is worth €24million (£20million).

The report claims that Arteta is clear that Saliba ‘will stay’ after the end of the season.

Transfer journalist Fabrizio Romano revealed as far back as October that Arsenal have given the player assurances over his future.

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Romano said: “Arsenal are following William Saliba’s performance with Marseille. They are very happy with him.

“The club told him several weeks ago that they were counting 100% on him for the future of Arsenal.”

Serie A duo also after Saliba

William Saliba in action for Marseille

According to reports elsewhere, though, Madrid will face a battle to sign Saliba.

Indeed, Inter and AC Milan are reportedly showing interest in the 20-year-old.

The latter club failed to sign a centre-back in January despite wanting to. Simon Kjaer should have returned from his long-term injury by the summer. Nevertheless, they could still plan to add another option.

Inter, meanwhile, are looking to bolster their ranks with Andrea Ranocchia’s contract expiring in the summer. Milan Skriniar and Stefan de Vrij will have one year left on their contracts by then.