Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta wants to see William Saliba stay at Saint-Etienne as he believes the teenager has “earned the right” to play in the Coupe de France final.
Saliba signed for the Gunners last summer but rejoined Saint-Etienne on loan to continue his development.
The 19-year-old defender missed three months of the season with injury, before authorities curtailed the Ligue 1 season in April.
France has hosted no games since the beginning of March but Saint-Etienne will meet Paris Saint-Germain in the French cup final on July 24.
Saliba’s loan runs until June 30 and he would be unable to play for Arsenal should he return to London.
Arteta is therefore keen for Saliba to stay put and take his place in the showpiece event.
“I think he needs to stay there,” he said when asked about Saliba’s immediate future in Tuesday’s press conference.
“We’ve got an agreement with Saint-Etienne, he’s been over there all year. He has earned the right to play in that final if the manager (Claude Puel) wants to do that.
“I think we have to give him the opportunity to do that, to enjoy that and we can have him after that.”
Arteta also revealed he has met up with Saliba on a number of occasions and admits he knows there will be pressure on the Frenchman to hit the ground running next year.
“I spoke with him a few times,” Arteta added.
“He has been around a few times here as well. We have been following his season. As a young player, he had a difficult season with injuries that he had but it is part of his process.
“I know how high the expectations are on him for next year but we have to bear in mind the age that he’s at and what he has done in the past, and make sure we create the right environment for him so he can keep going as a player.”
ARTETA’S FITNESS CONCERNS
Arsenal face Norwich on Wednesday night in their first home game since the Premier League season restarted.
Cedric Soares may recover in time from a facial injury to be in contention to make his debut.
And Arteta is keen to see how the Southampton loanee fares in his side.
“He’s a different quality in the full-back area than what we have,” the manager said. “He’s a gifted, technical player and is probably the best we have in the final third to make the right decision and attack the box as well.
“He can play in a four or a five, he’s a really good player with experience in the Premier League that can help us.”