Arsenal are reportedly looking to engineer a summer move to land highly-rated AS Saint-Etienne star William Saliba, who is also on the radar of Manchester United.
Unai Emery is leaving no stone unturned in his drive to secure quality defensive additions for the new season. As per Goal, William Saliba is the latest name to emerge as a summer target for Arsenal, with Manchester United also named as an admirer of the AS Saint-Etienne youngster.
The report iterates that Arsenal had scouts watch the player in action for Saint-Etienne in their 3-0 home win over OGC Nice and that the Gunners have scouted him extensively over the course of the 2018-19 campaign, which has served as a true breakout campaign for 18-year-old Saliba.
Goal add that Arsenal have been impressed by the maturity the Saint-Etienne star has shown at such a young age and without much experience at the top-tier before the 2018-19 campaign. The French club have seen Saliba climb through the ranks and make his senior debut in a 3-2 win for the side against Toulouse.
William Saliba (18): “I was with the U19s last year and now I’m with the pros. I’ve really improved because I’m training with top players.”
The Paris-born youngster is drawing comparisons with Raphaël Varane and has a deal with Saint-Etienne until 2023.pic.twitter.com/uSncOgU6y7
— AFCMike (@AFCPW) May 19, 2019
Saliba has since added 14 more appearances to his tally for the 2018-19 campaign and has solidified himself as a talent worth taking note, with Arsenal and Manchester United interested in the youngster.
Unai Emery feels he has an unbalanced and ageing squad, with his central defensive options certainly justifying the thought. So far, Sokratis is the only one to lock in a place, with Shkodran Mustafi and Laurent Koscielny both experiencing bouts of inconsistencies. Nacho Monreal did do well when played through the centre, but is already 33 and needs to be replaced, given the pace of the Premier League.
The Gunners shipped in 51 goals in the 2018-19 Premier League, which justifies Unai Emery’s pursuit of Saliba. The other team mentioned by Goal though, have conceded their highest number of goals in the Premier League era, 54. Manchester United have had one of their worst seasons ever, with a brief bright spark under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Solskjaer is now the permanent boss at Old Trafford and wants to fill his team up with players who have the passion and determination to succeed at Manchester United. The manager is also set to target youngsters who are good enough for the senior team rather than going after big-name signings.
Central defence has been a problem area for Manchester United and was one of the reasons for their miserable 2018-19 campaign. Victor Lindelof is the only one who has shown any shard of consistency at centre-back, with Eric Bailly, Marcos Rojo, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling either injured or not consistent enough to be a regular for a club like United.
Manchester United have also been linked with a move for Stoke City centre-back Nathan Collins, who has been recommended by former United player Darren Fletcher. Saliba might not come with a glaring recommendation from a former United loyal but someone better, with Jose Mourinho tipping the youngster for a bright future.
The report mentions that a bid of around £25 million could be enough to convince Saint-Etienne to let go of Saliba, with the French club also aware that it will tough to retain the 18-year-old when clubs like Arsenal and Manchester United come knocking in.