William Saliba’s chances of staking a claim for a place in the Arsenal first team are likely to be hindered by news of a call-up to France’s under-23 squad for the upcoming Olympic Games.
While the 20-year-old will no doubt feel honoured to get the nod for such a prestigious event, it looks as though he’ll end up missing the majority of pre-season as Arsenal play six friendlies in four weeks as well as undertaking training camps in Scotland and the USA.
The majority of Mikel Arteta’s squad is expected to report back on 7 July. Two weeks later, the Olympic football tournament starts on 21 July.
France @ the Olympics:
GK: P.Bernardoni, G.Larsonneur
DEF: B.Badiashile, A.Caci, P.Kalulu, C.Michelin, W.Saliba, M.Sarr
MID: E.Camavinga, M.Caqueret, J.Ikoné, T.Savanier, F.Thauvin, L.Tousart
ATT: A-P.Gignac, A.Gouiri, R.Kolo Muani, A.Nordin
— Get French Football News (@GFFN) June 25, 2021
The Gunners are already facing the same situation with fellow defender Gabriel Magalhaes who is set to feature for Brazil. In the end, compatriot Gabriel Martinelli failed to make the cut when a final lineup was announced last week.
To be clear, unlike FIFA-sanctioned tournaments, Arsenal are under no obligation to release players for the Olympics. We will be allowing Gabriel and Saliba to participate out of choice.
Signed from Saint-Etienne for £27 million two years ago, Saliba is yet to make his competitive debut for the Gunners and, in light of an impending deal for Brighton’s Ben White, there are now suggestions that he could be sold or loaned out for a third time.