William Saliba’s inauspicious start to life at Arsenal took another twist on deadline day after he was left ‘devastated’ over the club’s handling of his attempted loan return to Saint-Etienne.
The 19-year-old joined the Gunners in the summer of 2019 and was immediately loaned back to the French club, performing well last season, and he was expecting to compete for a first-team role under Mikel Arteta.
But he has failed to make a matchday squad in the Premier League while the club opted to strengthen at centre-back over the summer, signing Gabriel from Lille.
Unlikely to get much game time this season, Saint-Etienne tried to get the teenager back on loan as a replacement for Wesley Fofana – who joined Leicester City – and thought they had an agreement with Arsenal in place before Monday’s deadline.
However, French publication But! report that the Gunners scuppered the loan deal by introducing a series of demands at the last minute.
Arsenal wanted Saliba to return to London Colney a set number of times for medical check-ups, while they also introduced a compensation clause Saint-Etienne would have to pay if the defender failed to play a certain number of games.
But! report that Saliba, along with his representatives, had travelled to Saint-Etienne’s offices in Paris to get the deal over the line and stayed there from noon until midnight before the deal was finally called off.
Saliba was desperate to return to Saint-Etienne and get regular game time, even agreeing to halve his salary, and he is said to be ‘devastated’ that Arsenal scuppered the deal.
It is not the first time the Frenchman has been left fuming with the Gunners’ board, having been enormously disappointed with their refusal to let him play in the French Cup final for Saint-Etienne against PSG back in July.
The domestic window in England is still open for another week and it has been suggested that Saliba could now be loaned to a Championship club.