According to L’Equipe, Saint-Etienne will be due a €2.5 million bonus payment from Arsenal if William Saliba features in the delayed Coupe de France final versus PSG.
While the Ligue 1 season was cancelled at the end of April and the title subsequently awarded to PSG, it sounds as though there’s a determination to play the cup final behind closed doors before the Parc des Princes giants resume their Champions League campaign in August.
The problem for the Ligue 1 club is that Arsenal have to agree to the defender extending his loan agreement to that date and it seems very unlikely we’ll do that given the bonus clause will be triggered by the centre-back making a 17th start of the season. As things stand, he’s made 16 starts and one appearance as a sub.
Yes, 17 starts does sound like a random number of games.
As relayed by Get France Football News, alongside a Champions League qualification clause (also worth €2.5 million), it was Arsenal who stipulated an appearance-based incentive during negotiations last summer because they wanted assurances their new big-money signing would get game minutes this season. Apparently we said we’d pay up if he hit 30 starts but reserved a right to veto the player featuring twice a week.
Saint-Etienne thought that was daft and bartered us down to agreeing to pay the bonus if he started a third of their games. Had the season reached it’s originally intended conclusion, that would have totalled 52 games. Hence the target being 17 games for Saliba.
As things stand, Saliba has started a higher proportion of Saint-Étienne’s games than needed (39% of 41 games), but as you can imagine, Arsenal will likely look to weasel out on a technicality. L’Equipe predicts legal teams could get involved.
Claude Puel tells media in this lunchtime press conference that St Étienne have yet to reach an agreement with Arsenal that would allow William Saliba to play in the Coupe de France final vs PSG on 24th July. As it stands, he will leave on 30th June.
— Get French Football News (@GFFN) June 24, 2020
Quite what Saliba makes of the situation is anyone’s guess.
The 19-year-old stands to miss out on a cup final with his boyhood club if recalled by us on 1 July and, worse still, under FIFA rules he won’t be able to feature for Arsenal until the new season. Presumably, we’ll either send him off on his holidays or ask him to start a pre-season training programme.
It’s possible we’ll take the bonus on the chin (LOL) and let him play, but can you imagine what would happen if he got injured?
Anyway, it all seems unnecessarily complicated, but there we go, it’s Arsenal. This is how we roll these days.