Saturday, June 3, 2023

Saint-Etienne agreed Saliba loan, but deadline was missed

One of the secondary stories to yesterday’s transfer deadline day, aside from the signing of Thomas Partey, was that Arsenal were looking to send William Saliba out on loan.

He had been linked with Fulham, a move which would have given him Premier League experience and allowed him to stay in London, close to the club.

However, it has emerged that an agreement was found between Arsenal and Saint-Etienne to send him back to his former club for the duration of the 2020-21 campaign, but it fell through at the end because the paperwork could not be completed in time.

On their official website, Les Verts said, “Long before the transfer window closed, AS Saint-Etienne had reached an agreement with William Saliba and accepted Arsenal’s offer for a one-season loan.

“Unfortunately, all the administrative conditions could not be met in time, in England, for the finalisation of the deal.

The disappointment is great for ASSE and William Saliba, who particularly determined to return to the club where he had flourished.”

Quite what is going to happen now remains to be seen. The Gunners are obviously keen for him to play, but the fact we’re willing to loan him suggests we think he’s some way from being ready to play for us.

There is the possibility that he could go to a Championship side as the window remains open until October 16th between Premier League and EFL clubs.

Saliba joined Arsenal in the summer of 2019 when we paid Saint-Etienne a fee of £28m before loaning him back there for the season.

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Makes zero sense.


I guess it was decided as enough players could not be offloaded, he could not get much play experience.

Eternal Titi Berg Pat Nostalgia

Make zéro sense.

SB Still

Its a massive disappointment for him, as well as for us who have spent a huge outlay of our transfer budget on him.

Since we had to move on a num of players out and the view that Saliba should be loaned out emerged only recently (based on his performance in training, which has been after a long break), looks like this fell through the cracks.

Ideally should have been loaned to Fulham and come back a fully PL ready defender.

However, given that our EL draw isn’t tough, he certainly could feature regularly at least in that competition.


I have a feeling he’s going to force his way into first team contention. I don’t have strong reasons for believing this other than I think he’s a really good footballer and Luiz is not covering himself in glory week after week. I think the move (and maybe personal circs) have disoriented him somewhat and the talk of going back to France has added to that, offering a ‘safe’ option that would’ve likely backfired in the long run (like Wilshere’s demand to go on loan to Bournemouth). If Arteta can communicate that he is now a full time Arsenal player,… Read more »

Dave cee

Yes, I kind of agree, it could be a blessing that this fell through.
Obviously I don’t know the circumstances in the background, but there is much to be said for sticking around during a tough time and emerging stronger for it. I hope that will be the case here. Let’s be honest, the barriers to a 1st team spot alongside Gabriel are not exactly insurmountable

Eternal Titi Berg Pat Nostalgia

Quite ridiculous, that’s all it is.


In hindsight this doesn’t look great, but at the time we signed him, we expected him to have a dominant season readying him for the EPL. Instead his season was ravaged by injuries and major family trauma. We just didn’t know the damage till he came in our squad and arteta had a change to assess him. Saliba was an irresponsible transfer decision borne out of a dearth of quality CBs on the market, but only if you frame it in the context of our transfer limitations (which were less limited that we thought!). I do have high very hopes… Read more »


Sadly his mother passed a way earlier this year and I suspect that has had a huge impact on him and the decision to try and send him back to France. He is a 19 year old boy in a new country and probably wanted to be closer to his family for a while. Likely to be loaned in January I suspect.


Embarassing if true.


How so? there could be a myriad of reasons why this didn’t happen in time. Doesn’t look like anyone is blaming each other. It didn’t make a lot of sense to me anyway.

Eternal Titi Berg Pat Nostalgia

Come on.

Lord Bendnter

Something I heard about having someone in his family sick? So that was another reason for french loan? Not sure how true or if so what are the details

Viv the ?

It seems like his mother passed away like last year or so. If you mean that.


Heard this too but a “thumbs up” doesn’t feel appropriate…


May, this year.

A Gorilla

Standard Arsenal transfer window. Sloppy management of deals, souring relationships with other clubs and people remain on contracts with less than 12 months left.


No one wanted Mustafi.

Can’t say I blame them.

Non-flying dutchman

We’re not here to provide comfort and charity to other clubs.

Atletiico could have engaged in a deal but pointed to a contact arrangement which left them hostage to fortune. B

ar personal circumstances mentioned above I can see no logic in shipping Saliba back to France. If he needs game time then that would be better in the Championship. If he really is only Ligue 1 quality then St E should have forked out what they sole him to us for.


Well said.

The Arsenal Way is always advisable, but not to the detriment of the club.

Until such a time that this club is back where it belongs, i.e. top four and challenging for the title on a permanent basis, then the Corinthian Spirit can go and fuck itself.

Not only that, an unhappy Diego Simeone is fucking hilarious.

Non-flying dutchman

We’ll never agree on Ozil Qwaliteee, but an enraged Simeone is something we can all get behind

Gus Caesar

Bewilders me how quickly our own ‘supporters’ are to condemn the club when they don’t even know half of the facts. What we do know is that there were a few clubs (including Fulham) who were interested in loaning Saliba – maybe Arsenal thought Saliba’s development would be better served at a new club, particularly given what we know about concerns about the handling of Saliba’s injury last season? Maybe waiting to see if a better offer materialised in a concrete manner was the right option? Whatever, St Etienne have f*all say in what we choose to do for our… Read more »


Off to Reading?


This rumour about his mum dying is awful if true. That explains his absence and talk if loan moves etc. If it’s not about that then it’s just plain weird.

Ultimately, what the fuck is going on?

Gus Caesar

Maybe it’s simply a case of the manager who signed him no longer being at the club and the new manager who is just not judging him quite ready? Why does everything have to be weird? Different opinions on players happens every day at every club.


This is increasingly looking like Arsenal paid way over the odds for the player. He is young, but at £28 million cost he should be in and around the first team. Teenagers like Saka, Martinelli and others have all broken through early, so it should be possible if the player is good enough.


It’s a bit different with CBs, Saka and Martinelli can make mistakes and it won’t cost goals, there is less pressure. He is still incredibly young for a CB. He looks very good but should not be rushed. His mum passed away recently and that is a lot for a young man to deal with as well as moving to a new country. I am pleased to see the club looking after him properly, or at least trying to.

Pepe The Frog

Exactly. People are jumping the gun here even though we don’t know the reason for this move. If indeed he did suffer a personal tragedy as you’ve mentioned, then there’s absolutely nothing wrong in helping him go back to France for a year. He’s 19 ffs, got a long career ahead of him. But his well-being and mental health come above everything else.

Crash Fistfight

Moving to a new country in the midst of a pandemic, so he can’t even get out to acclimatise to his new surroundings. Sounds pretty shit to me.


Exactly. Sending him back to his old club makes sense if there are family reasons involved. That can hardly be the case if he’s going to Fulham or any Championship side.

Then why have we paid 28 million for a defender that isn’t at the required level to justify a price like that? Is this just more dodgy shit in the wake of Don Raul?

A Different George

That’s one possible explanation. The other is that we are confident that he will become a mainstay centre half for years and that his cost would have skyrocketed if we waited. How much would you have paid for an 18 year old Virgil Van Dijk?


He is highly regarded still and I believe need a little bit more time to adjust. A new country, language, a far more competitive league, it’s too much for a teenager. Give him some time


It doesn’t take away from the fact that if he needed more time we shouldn’t have invested in him yet to the order of >€30M. If it is the family situation it makes sense. If it’s not it’s a complete clusterfuck of a situation. When you buy a player one of the key things is understanding their mentality and personality. Something time has shown we seem to be neglecting far too often (özil resigning, Douzi, to some extent perhaps Pepe, Torreira – not well suited to England). Hopefully, the talk about Partey’s personality (a massive trait apparently) is a good… Read more »

Gus Caesar

a) There is absolutely no way that we have paid £30m up front. b) Sometimes you have to pay to buy talent, even if you think they might take a little why to come to fruition. Better that than have to pay £80m once they’re established. c) Not sure if it escaped your attention but quite a big change occurred between Saliba signing and then joining us this summer. Maybe that simply explains the change in approach? d) Since when did Saliba’s mentality or personality become either an issue or relevant to this piece of news? Know him personally do… Read more »

A Different George

Just to add to your point (c). One of the most amazing things about people talking about football in general and transfers in particular, not just here, is how many of them simply ignore the fact that the entire world has changed since last March. Saliba played no football after he recovered from his injury because all football was stopped. Oh, right.


a) never said we did. But that is the fee and it’s coming out over X-months. b) Yes, undoubtedly. And I still believe we have signed a quality guy. But the deeper you going into potential the deeper the risk. But it’s not the part I have an issue with – it’s our handling of the situation currently. c) Yes, crazy times. But he has a chance at a career. And Arsenal have made a big investment. Offering loans and scrapping loans, cancelling finals appearances, no sign of involvement in Carabao cup – we’ve hardly handled this splendidly have we?… Read more »


Yeah feel same way. U dnt spend 27 mil on some prospect if he is not ready to play within a year. Seem Raul’s misadventure. I think Arteta knows he isnt ready for epl. And after this year he wil probably only have 3 years left on his contract.

Gus Caesar

Loaning him for a year to St Etienne was the only way we could sign him. And nobody knows whether he’ll be ready to play this year – he might well be – maybe the talk of a further loan was only until Xmas? 3 years left on his deal is absolutely fine, if he’s good enough we extend it. We couldn’t possibly sign him on a 6 year deal anyway, so our hands were tied on that one. And to repeat my comment above, we didn’t pay either £27m or £30m up front so that will have had minimal… Read more »

Pepe The Frog

Leicester paid 25-30 for Soyuncu and he looked out of sorts in his first season and hardly played any games. Fast-forward two years and he’s a mainstay of the Leicester team.

Gus Caesar

I think you’re reading a lot into what we do actually know for sure. I haven’t read anything about us cancelling any loan. All we know is that no loan occurred yesterday, neither did we shift any other CB yesterday (except Ballard) and St Etienne are saying that they tried but it failed at our end. That could be true, it might equally be a case of them getting their own excuses in early to appease their own fans as they did with the cup final argument. But also there might have been very good reasons why Saliba didn’t leave… Read more »


A lot to digest there and you make interesting points. Some of which I agree with, but some of which are equally speculative (re: loans this season – it seems by all accounts he was available a very close to leaving). I believe it would serve him best to stay at Arsenal (now more than ever). That’s my take and that’s what we are here for right? Your take is different (you think loans would be good for him) and maybe Arsenal management did too, but then they didn’t it would seem and he’s still here with the remaining option… Read more »

Non-flying dutchman

All for time to settle. The plethora of central defenders should give him that anyway.


It’s hard to plan for injuries, Covid and deaths in the family


Exactly this.

If we were gonna loan him back to St Etienne for 2 years in a row, we should only pay the 28mil in 2022.

Zero logic to this especially when taken together with the price tag.

John Jensen

Leicester signed Wesley Fofana for around £30 million. They’re the same age, but he played less games for Saint-Étienne. I don’t think we’ll know if the money paid for Saliba is worth it until he actually plays for us…

Tanned arse

Saliba stood out as a 17 year old center back after about 10 games in one of top leagues in the world. At a time when silly money was being thrown around by almost every club. If you’re convinced the kid is going to be super talented then you buy him quick or quite probably lose the chance. As it turned out he got an injury then football stopped (but you don’t make decisions based on what is impossible to predict). We needed players to come in immediately but if you want super quality you either have to invest huge… Read more »


This could yet prove to be a blessing in disguise.

If Arteta is serious about top four, then Saliba has to be further up the pecking order than Mustafi or Kolasinac.


Kolasinac yes, Mustafi no.

For large portions of last season Mustafi was our best defender.

And he can pass.


Rubbish. Last season alone, he was awful against Chelsea away getting Luiz sent off, Brighton away losing his forward for Brighton’s winner, Tottenham away, when he didn’t have a clue what day it was and Leicester at home when he allowed Vardy in for Leicester’s equaliser. He is, in short, a total liability. He cannot pass to save his life – hoofing the ball that was meant to find a player and ends up out into touch is a speciality of his. As for his perceived improvement, it was only because he actually had a few average games rather than… Read more »


Maybe the club didn’t have enough available staff to complete the admin as they’d all been fired in the summer.




People just don’t appreciate the job Gunnersaurus has done to free up time for everyone else behind the scenes.

Viv the ?

Any top flight club would have been great I think. I would have personally liked it, if he would have stayed in England (on Loan). We could think about Championship. I think that would be a reasonable idea. Like a Brentford, which is not that far away from London. And I think we will see something like this happening. This year, we should integrate Gabriel and Mari into the side, so that they have the experience to integrate Saliba better into the starting side. I think Holding and Chambers will also be playing more, so we can decide, where they… Read more »

Dave cee

If he stays at Arsenal this is going to require some sensitive management by Mikel. I agree that Holding, Musti and Chambers will all require game time, but hope that doesn’t mean Saliba is allowed to drift, he needs to be given some opportunities also. Maybe the Europa can give him that, we could line up with a back 4 of Kola, Mari, Saliba, Chambers or a 5 with Cedric involved too. AMN could be given opportunities in midfield also perhaps. It may mean being a little unfair on someone like Papa, but Saliba is ( hopefully ) the future… Read more »

Gus Caesar

Personally, I don’t think we’d have been looking to loan Saliba had Mustafi and Sokratis left as the club hoped. I suspect it was a pragmatic change of mind when it became more likely that Saliba would have much more competition. Also, Saliba had a bit of a shocker in one under 23 game recently by reliable accounts, so maybe that persuaded Arteta that perhaps he was just a bit too ring-rusty for the first team? Either way, i don’t think it’s a disaster for Saliba by any means – he gets to train every day with Arteta & co,… Read more »

Frank Bascombe

He was loaned back last year to get a season under his belt but injury and a global pandemic kind of put paid to that. Fact is, he’s played less than thirty senior games and is now expected to thrive is the hardest league in the world? Added to which, there are some family issues. He’s young fella in a foreign country. Arsenal are looking after their investment here. FFS.


Oversimplification. Nobody expects him to be starting every EPL game right now. But I think we’d like to see him in the cups, getting experience with his teammates and coaches, learning the language and settling into London life…well I mean if we have any ambition for him to succeed at Arsenal that is. Again the “rumours” of personal complications are the only thing that make this in anyway logical.

Pepe The Frog

Ornstein confirmed that Saliba had lost someone close to him in May. So I wouldn’t be surprised if he wants to go back to France to be closer to his family. This is a weird year, and no normal person would be able to concentrate fully on work having suffered a personal tragedy, let alone a 19-year-old in a foreign country.

A Different George

“We’d like to see him in the cups.” What does that actually mean? First, it’s likely that the coaches at Arsenal (you know, the people who spend their entire professional lives watching players) believe that the thing Saliba needs is lots of competitive matches, a run of games (that’s why he was loaned back to St Etienne in the first place). Maybe (like me) they don’t think it’s enough for him to play (possibly play) in the group stage of the Europa League, and *maybe* one or two early FA Cup matches (he’s certainly not playing against Man City in… Read more »


Saliba wanted to go back to France on loan, but couldn’t because the club messed up the paperwork. Now he is dissapointed with the club for the second time in a couple of months. If Arsenal are looking after their investment here, they are not doing it especially well. No matter which perspective you look at this from, there is something not quite right. If his level isn’t even good enough to be on the bench, you have to question the amount we paid. And if he is going through a personal tragedy and needs to return home, it is… Read more »


So we decided to buy him and immediately loan him, and refused to extended for the final only to loan him again next season.


I would prefer him to go to a Championship side – he’ll get more used to the physical rigours of the English game


And he’ll also learn English while playing in the Championship


Agree with both points. Also it will be out of his comfort zone so he will have to up his game to prove worthy. The only important detail is to manage to gain playing time.


I would prefer if a 28 million pound defender came here ready to play for us and not go out on loan to a competitor or a lesser league.


Ake costed 50 mil.
Diaz 70
VVD 80
Koulibaly they say more than 80.

Good Defenders cost more than we can afford. Mediocre ones we already have.

He is a brave investment and I am all in with it.
We are in a stage that we either find young gems or we stay out of top 4


A brave investment not ready to play for us for a second consecutive season.


He only had half a season last season. And even that he was injured for large swathes.


Yes, much more rewarding to face off against Luton Town than trying to stop Mpappe, Neymar and Aouar.

I doubt France would have had two teams in the Champions league semi finals if championship teams were allowed to take part. The sheer physicality of the championship players would have blown most European teams away.


I hope the older heads (the more sensible amongst them) and the clubs general support structure are doing everything for Saliba that they can.

Whatever about how much was spent on him, he needs to be given every chance and support to get his feet under him.

I’d like to think if he can’t go to his actual home to do that, Arsenal should be doing everything it can to make him feel at home away from home.


He’s way too good for the Championship. Play him in Europe.


To be honest I think he would face more competitive sides in the championship than the early stages of Europa. He would also be doing that week in week out.


On what grounds?


Shouldn’t we extend his contract if we are sending him out on loan again? How long will he play for us once he returns?

Daz Righ

What a nightmare of a start for him. Wouldn’t let him play in cup final for st Etienne, now we don’t want him here, agreed to send him back to St. Etienne, but then we didn’t. That guy must feel like sh$t, probably feels trapped, unwanted, not valued and thoroughly pissed off. All we’ve done is mess him around. Not a good way to breed love for the arsenal


Don’t agree with that. From what I gather they are trying to nurture him, he lost his mum recently and thought a loan back to his home country at a difficult time would be right for him and at 19, I am inclined to agree.


And then we fucked up the paperwork…

Granit(e) hard!

Something does seems off on this one…why on earth pay £28 million for a teenager that is not ready in 2 seasons to even play for us. Well its done, its done, no use moaning over it, the lad obviously has some qualities, which was probably why the deal didnt ruffle feathers at the time it was done, dodgy or not. Lets all hope it turns out to be a good thing, on the plus side, he is a modern ball playing centre half with a good size to him and plenty of quality on the ball i hear, moreover,… Read more »


We need to maximise our assets better than perhaps we’ve done, or are still doing. £28million is a lot of money to pay, yet not get any return for quite a sizable chunk of time. Anyway, we’ll see hat happens – perhaps a loan within this country as others have suggested, will be an option but we still don’t get the benefit ourselves, directly anyway.

Granit(e) hard!

Yeah, I agree, a real head scratcher this one, but its a done deal, and no amount of dwelling on the negatives of the deal can change anything, so i’ll rather for my sanity, look at the potential positives mate


Totally agree, it’s just that I’m not sure when we (Arsenal, on the pitch where it only counts) are likely to see those positives. Not for another season, but we’ll have to be patient.


Isn’t this a big part of why we kept Luiz?

Billy bob

Offer him to Brentford on condition they give us first dibs on their goalie Raya


Would a 6 month loan to top Championship club playing 3x a week til January not help aid his development? I know he’s played in Ligue 1 but man, the boy is only 19 still…

TC Eyes

send him to Brentford. He will do well there, challenging for promotion, stays in London and get some experience.

Non-flying dutchman

QPR, Reading, Watford…


The idea behind the loan was for family reasons. That means his old club in France. Loaning him to an English club just means he’s not ready to play for us which begs the question why.


Maybe just a cunning plan on the part of the club.
Is there a massive difference between the Championship and the Prem?
How about in relation to Ligue 1?
Maybe the club would prefer to have him in a smaller prem club or a Championship club rather than in France.
Just managed to miss the deadline…ooopsy….


I’m really confused given his performance in that first pre-season game. He looked excellent. There must be more to it than it seems.

Merlin’s Panini

I guess he could still move to a championship club if he needs to acclimatise. Brentford perhaps?


So 40% of his contract will have been used up out on loan before he kicks a ball for Arsenal. And Sanllehi said they had to outsmart the market?


Hmmm. Makes you think, doesn’t it.


It’s a shame, particularly if it’s Arsenal’s fault that the administrative details weren’t completed in time. We don’t know exactly why it failed, but perhaps we don’t have enough backroom staff now to complete a transfer (Partey’s) and a loan (Saliba’s) simultaneously! I hope not, but if so the phrase “false economy” comes to mind.


False Economy? More like Kroenke’s Economy. Actually, it’s the same thing, really.


Saliba doesnt look like a player short on confidence and attitude. He would have done well in any side, but i guess the loan deal not happening might turn out to be a good one for all. Arteta is good with player management and him being out on loan i only had visions of phil jones, smalling , senderos who were just exposed a lot after being tipped as one for the future. That pressure and bad coaching or maybe management ruined it for them. We have to be smart with Saliba.


He needs a home after what he’s been through this year. Auba Laca Gabriel Willian Pepe Partey Saliba will let him feel loved and belonging someplace


Seems like we were a bit busy getting other transfers across the line at the last minute to be too concerned about the needs of Saint- Etienne.


In what was an otherwise solid window, this situation looks shambolic. If the rumours of his family situation are true, then loaning him out to another premier league club doesn’t make sense either. Best thing would be to give him the compassionate leave he needs (if the rumours are true) but otherwise keep him with us until at least January.


Top post, well said.


send him to the Championship and let him play every game in a promotion winning campaign – would be brilliant for him


This will be bizarre if our £27m signing spends one season in the French league followed by a year in the EFL.


This is so weird.


Can’t believe we didn’t move or loan Mustafi or Sokratis. How are we going to manage 7 center backs?

Granit(e) hard!

Jeez, never really realised the numbers we have because we have been carrying multiple long term injuries in that area of the squad for a while, but Its a lot of centre backs isn’t it?..we must have the most lopsided squad in the Premier League i would wager

Doctor Perceptron

Maybe they bought him early to ensure he counts as homegrown going forward? This is clearly a problem for us.


This signing gets stranger and stranger. It was bit wierd when it was announced last year, but at the time I believed he must have shown incredible talent and already realised a lot of his potential to command £28 million price tag, even if we were leaving him in France while we had a complete nightmare at the back over here.

And now… wtf? Is he secretly shit? And who on earth sanctioned that insane amount of money to get spent? He’s worth almost 2/3 of a Partey. I wonder if Raul’s sacking was about more than the Pepe deal?


Good thing. We paid 27m for him…5m per window. If he is so talented there is no reason not to start working him into squad. Frankly Luiz should slowly start to take a back seat this season (if not be moved out) Magalhaes is progressing well. Mari should also get a chance to cycle in. Saliba may need some peripheral games at back 3 to find his feet as well but we could well do with another on the left side to Holding who has been performing well enough. Saliba though looks lke he has some added pace too. Jury… Read more »


So, the club denied him the opportunity to play the Coupe de France final with His club but then seriously consider to loan him back…?

Teryima Adi

The Strange Case of William Saliba

Cultured Determination

Why did we pay 27 mil for a youngster who is not ready? Or did we misjudge? Is he better than sokratis, chambers, holding and mustafi? If he is then he should stay and play some games for us. If not then why did we spend 27 mil for?


I wonder if part of what motivated a desire to loan back to St. Etienne was player difficulty adapting to England/London?


Just play his arse only in Europa league and other cup fixtures so he can get his footing right


I believe the developments are happening due to non-footballing reasons. Read from somewhere his mother passed away some time ago. That’s tough enough for anyone to take, let alone a 19 year old all alone in a foreign land. I think we gotta hold back on this one. Pretty sure it’s not for his ability that their trying to send him back. Probably just to be closer to family.

Sam M

Is it that surprising that Arsenal weren’t too keen to get the loan done when St. Etienne released this statement only a few months ago “Alas, ASSE, which simply wanted the extension of the initial loan until July 24, could not find an agreement in the evening with Arsenal to allow the defender to properly prepare and play this match, the English club imposing absolutely unacceptable sports and financial conditions”. St. Etienne made their bed – Saliba will gain more from U23s than playing in Ligue 1. By Christmas he’ll be making first team appearances.

Merlin’s Panini

Given the rumours of a Championship move, I suspect he could end up at either Watford or Brentford to keep him nice and close. Otherwise maybe Swansea or Derby, who like to play good football. Perhaps Huddersfield who were more than happy to give regular game time to ESR last season.


Whoever we send him to, make them sign a ‘no Tony Pulis’ clause.

Granit(e) hard!

Plenty more to come from this lad in an Arsenal shirt i am sure, he is a natural. But this is the critical stage in his career that can make or break him, depending on his focus and work ethics. We are all rooting for you Eddie, lets get the partey started

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