Arsenal appear to have got on the wrong side of Saint-Etienne once again after the French club missed out on a temporary agreement for William Saliba.
The Gunners signed Saliba from Saint-Etienne for a fee of around £27million last summer before immediately loaning the 19-year-old central defender back to the Ligue 1 outfit for the 2019/20 campaign.
Mikel Arteta hinted that Saliba could be in his plans for the new term by giving the youngster a chance to impress in pre-season but widespread reports suggested the youngster would head out on loan before the summer transfer window closed.
Fulham registered a strong interest and guaranteed Saliba regular minutes in the Premier League but it seems Saliba favoured a return to Saint-Etienne, who were confident of reaching an agreement before the deadline.
But Saint-Etienne claim ‘administrative conditions’ could not be met in England as they pointed the finger of blame at Arsenal, leaving both the club and the player ‘disappointed’.
‘Long before the transfer window closed, Saint-Etienne had reached an agreement with William Saliba and accepted Arsenal’s offer for a one-season loan,’ a statement on the Ligue 1 club’s official website said.
‘Unfortunately, all the administrative conditions could not be met in time, in England, for the completion of the deal.
‘The disappointment is great for Saint-Etienne and William Saliba, who was particularly determined to return to a club where he has flourished.’
It’s not the first time Arsenal have upset Saint-Etienne, with the Gunners coming under fire back in July for their ‘absolutely unacceptable’ demands which meant Saliba could not play in the Coupe de France.
The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the French football season meant Saliba’s deal came to an end before Saint-Etienne faced Paris Saint-Germain and they were unable to reach an agreement with Arsenal to extend his loan.
‘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,’ Saint-Etienne’s statement at the time said.
‘William Saliba had been training for several days with Claude Puel’s group and was obviously very enthusiastic about the idea of finishing his course in Green with such a match.
‘Alas, Saint-Etienne, 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 meeting, the English club imposing absolutely unacceptable sports and financial conditions.’
The Ghana midfielder put pen to paper on a four-year contract at the Emirates and agreed to wages of £250,000-a-week, making him the third-highest player in Arteta’s squad after Mesut Ozil and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
He is expected to take over the No.18 shirt in north London, which was last worn by Nacho Monreal.