Arsenal are reportedly set to land Saint-Etienne centre-back William Saliba, who was also a target for Tottenham, in a €30 million deal.
According to a report by ESPN, William Saliba is set to join Arsenal in this summer’s transfer window in a €30 million deal. The French defender had also been the subject of interest from Tottenham Hotspur, who have now lost out in the race to sign him from Saint-Etienne.
William Saliba might not have had much experience playing first-team football. But, despite being just 18, the player has shown a level of maturity that is rarely seen in players at a developmental stage, having made giant strides upon breaking into the Saint-Etienne first-team setup early last season.
An imposing figure with a proficiency in aerial situations, Saliba is also quite pacy for his frame. And, as is the case with most modern day centre-backs, the teenager is also strong on the ball, which ought to help when it comes to two of his most heavily linked suitors, Arsenal and Tottenham.
Arsenal have proven to be an exciting, yet frustrating side under Unai Emery, the former largely due to their defensive deficiencies. Shkodran Mustafi has been nothing short of a disappointment, while Laurent Koscielny looks set to leave the club, which would force the Gunners to find a replacement for the Frenchman.
To that end, Saliba could have been a long-term successor to his compatriot, which had prompted Arsenal to make a move for him. Tottenham though, had emerged as possible suitors, up against their North London rivals in recent weeks.
With Toby Alderweireld now in the final year of his contract with Spurs, the need to find a replacement has appeared, with Jan Vertonghen, Davinson Sanchez and Juan Foyth the only other centre-backs at Mauricio Pochettino’s disposal. As a result, Tottenham had been hoping to hijack Arsenal’s pursuit of Saliba.
Arsenal though, fancied their chances of snapping Saliba up, with reports claiming that the 18-year-old preferred joining them over Tottenham. And, suggestions from ESPN confirm the same, with the French teenager now set to make the switch to Emirates, with the Gunners’ project appealing more to him.
Saliba though, will return immediately to Saint-Etienne on a season-long loan, which complicates matters for Arsenal as they will not have an immediate successor to Koscielny. Meanwhile, the transfer fee is a little less than the amount that had been stipulated earlier, with Arsenal shelling out €30 million to secure his services.
The move will still take some time to formalise though, with the transfer set to be held up till Arsenal return from their pre-season tour to USA. But, what appears to be certain is that William Saliba is set to snub Tottenham to join the Gunners this summer before being loaned back to Saint-Etienne to gain more first-team experience.