Arsenal defender William Saliba could be set for a shock return to France as Stade Rennais look to secure a loan deal this summer.
According to Telefoot, as relayed by Express, Arsenal are in talks with Rennes regarding a loan move for William Saliba. The defender has found it difficult to break into Mikel Arteta’s first-team so far and could be set for a shock return to France.
Rennes are reportedly keen on reinforcing their defensive department, using the money they earned from the sale of Eduardo Mendy to Chelsea. They have already come to an agreement with Juventus regarding the services of ex-Arsenal target Daniele Rugani and it seems Saliba has emerged as the next target.
The French defender had initially joined Arsenal last summer, for a fee of €30 million. However, as part of the agreement, he was allowed to remain at St. Etienne on loan for the 2019/20 campaign and despite suffering a few injury problems, he did manage to replicate his performances and emerge as a defensive stalwart for the Ligue 1 outfit.
Saliba returned to the Emirates in the summer, ready to break into the team and replace ageing stars like Shkodran Mustafi and Sokratis. But, things have gone south for him so far, as the centre-back is yet to make any competitive appearances for Arsenal so far.
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The marquee signing of Gabriel Magalhaes this summer, combined with Mikel Arteta utilising Kieran Tierney as a centre-back seems to have massively effected Saliba’s status in the first-team.
As a result, the Frenchman has fallen behind the likes of David Luiz, Rob Holding, Tierney and Gabriel in the pecking order. Even Sead Kolasinac has been preferred ahead of Saliba for a couple of matches this season.
Moreover, it seems unlikely that Arsenal would like to offload any of their current defenders excluding Sokratis while the likes of Pablo Mari and Mustafi are slowly nearing their return to full fitness. It does not bode well for Saliba, so the 21-year-old now finds himself in a delicate situation.
That is where a switch to Rennes, who have been keen on a centre-back, could make sense. The Frenchman is already quite familiar with Ligue 1 and could potentially create a formidable defensive partnership alongside Rugani in the new season. So, it will be interesting to see how this transfer saga takes shape as Arsenal look to wrap up their transfer business in the coming days.