Arsenal are ready to sanction another loan move for William Saliba amidst concerns he needs regular game time this season to aid his development.
Signed from Saint-Etienne in the summer of 2019 for £27 million, the centre-back was loaned back to the Ligue 1 club to gain further first team experience. While he impressed when fit, his season was pockmarked by injuries and then cut short in March by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Despite his inexperience, Saliba was tipped to compete for a first team place this year. Indeed, Arsenal made a point of recalling him from his loan in July – a decision that cost the defender an appearance in the Coupe de France final – and he went on to feature a couple of times in our stunted pre-season. It was even predicted he might start our opening Premier League game against Fulham but a senior debut hasn’t yet materialised.
In fairness, Arsenal are overloaded with centre-backs at the moment. We’ve retained David Luiz, recruited Brazilian Gabriel Magalhães, opted against loaning out Rob Holding and have Shkodran Mustafi, Calum Chambers and Pablo Mari all closing in on a return to fitness. Sokratis is also still on the books although he could leave before the transfer window closes on Monday.
Breaking | Rennes are in active talks to sign William Saliba on loan from Arsenal, according to @SimoneRovera & confirmed by Ouest-France. More follows tomorrow.
— Get French Football News (@GFFN) October 1, 2020
According to various reports, French side Rennes are in pole-position to sign Saliba. Now that word is out, it wouldn’t be surprising if a few other clubs in his home country pick up the phone.
Asked about Saliba’s absence from last night’s Carabao Cup game with Liverpool, Arteta said: “He had a year last year where Arsenal loaned him to St Etienne and that was a transition year for him.
“For many reasons, that wasn’t the transition year that he needed because he had a lot of injuries, some personal injuries and also with COVID-19 and the French league getting cancelled, he didn’t have that year.
“He needs that year of transition and we are trying to make the right decisions for him to give him the best transitional year for him to have the player we want in our future.”