William Saliba says he didn’t think twice about joining Arsenal even though neighbours Sp*rs made an attempt to hijack our deal at the last moment.
After protracted negotiations, it was today confirmed that the 18-year-old defender has signed a long-term contract at the Emirates and will spend next season back on loan at current club Saint-Étienne. The deal is understood to be worth in the region of €30 million.
“It’s a massive pleasure to sign for a really, really big English club,” he told Arsenal.com.
“This is the biggest club in England for me, so it was an easy decision. I didn’t think twice about signing here, so I’m really happy.”
Asked specifically why he chose the Gunners rather than the lot at the other end of the Seven Sisters Road, Saliba diplomatically explained, “Well, the history, the badge… since I was little, I’ve been watching Arsenal play in the Champions League and so on, and there are a lot of French players who have come through here.
“So that really helped me to make my mind up.”
Earlier today, the Gunners confirmed the loaning signing of Dani Ceballos from Real Madrid. The Spain international went on to say that both Unai Emery and Hector Bellerin had played a big role in persuading him to come to N5.
Similarly, Saliba says a chance encounter with Matteo Guendouzi helped strengthen his resolve to make the switch to Arsenal.
“Yeah, I spoke to Matteo [Guendouzi],” he revealed. “I even bumped into him at a funfair in Paris, and that’s where I told him that Arsenal wanted to sign me! He gently advised me to come here and explained what it was like.”
Gunners fans will have to wait a year to see Saliba in Arsenal colours, but he insists he’s going to spend the next 12 months doing everything he can to prepare himself for life in the Premier League.
On his decision to stay with Les Verts, he said: “It was important first of all because I wanted to prove myself for another year at Saint-Etienne, before I come to try and establish myself here at Arsenal.
“This is a big club, and when you come here, you need to be ready. So I’m going to try and have a great season with the club that developed me in order to be ready for Arsenal.”