Yesterday Mikel Arteta made it clear that he felt William Saliba should stay at Saint-Etienne to play in the French Cup Final later this month.
The 19 year old was bought by the Gunners last summer, on the proviso that we loan him back there for the 2019-20 season – a deal which expired last night on June 30th.
At his press conference, the Arsenal boss said, “I think he needs to stay there. We have an agreement with Saint-Etienne, he’s been there all year, and he’s earned his right to play that final if the manager wants to do that.
“I think we have to give him the opportunity to do that, to enjoy that, and we can have him after that.”
However, this morning the Ligue 1 outfit have released a statement expressing their dismay at the ‘unacceptable sporting and financial conditions’ Arsenal were seeking to impose to make that happen.
AS Saint-Etienne was pleased to learn yesterday Tuesday that Mikel Arteta, Arsenal coach, was ready to leave William Saliba at the disposal of the club until the final of the Coupe de France, July 24 next.
William Saliba had been training for several days with Claude Puel’s group and was obviously very enthusiastic about the idea of finishing his time in Green with such a match.
Sadly, ASSE, who simply wanted the extension of the initial loan until July 24, could not find an agreement this evening with Arsenal to allow the defender to properly prepare and play this match, the English club imposing absolutely unacceptable sports and financial conditions.
That’s a real shame for the player who has grown up at that club, and who would have played his final game in a cup final. It’s also not the ideal way for him to start his new career with us, feeling like he’s been denied such an important occasion.
Arteta has been in close contact with the player since he took over and hopefully he can smooth things over with him, but this is another problem he could have done without.
It might be especially galling for Saliba when it comes on the same day that Arsenal have reportedly agreed to let Henrikh Mkhitaryan cancel his contract and join Roma on a free transfer.
This is a player Roma offered £10m for in January, a bid we turned down, and while the focus was getting his £200,000 a week wages off the books, it’s still money we’ve written off to the benefit of Roma, Mkhitaryan and his agent more than us.
Let’s see what more comes out about this, but on face value it’s not a good reflection on how we’ve handled this.
UPDATE: Just to point out, the £2.5m clause was something Arsenal insisted on to incentivise his selection because we wanted him to play and develop during this season. And had the season played out normally, we’d have been happy to pay it.