Arsenal are reportedly on the brink of completing a deal for William Saliba before sending him back to Saint Etienne on loan for the forthcoming season.
The Gunners are hopeful of securing a £26million deal for the teenage defender, with Tottenham also interested, in what will be their second signing of the summer following the recent capture of Brazilian teenage forward Gabriel Martinelli.
Reports in France last week suggested Arsenal had an initial bid rejected by Saint-Etienne who want the entire fee up front.
It is understood that the Gunners will allow the highly-rated youngster to spend next season with the French club.
This backs up comments by Saint Etienne president Roland Romeyer who insisted that a loan return is a wish of the player as well as the club.
“He will stay at the club this season,” the president said. “It is an imperative condition should we come to an agreement for his transfer. It’s also William’s wish.”
Saliba made 19 appearances in all competitions the past season and was recently rewarded with a new four-year contract.
However it will be somewhat concerning for Arsenal fans that they have forked out a large sum of money for a player who will not be part of their first-team fold until the 2020/21 campaign.
Arsenal have a transfer budget of just £40m to spend following the failure to qualify for the Champions League.
Unai Emery has so far been frustrated in his pursuit of Celtic left-back Kieran Tierney, with the Scottish champions holding out for £25m.
Arsenal also want to bring in Wilfried Zaha from Crystal Palace, but the Eagles are holding out for £80m and Emery will have to sell members of his current squad to raise funds.
The likes of Mesut Ozil and Henrikh Mkhitaryan could depart for the right offer but Arsenal are determined to keep hold of Lucas Torreira, who has emerged as a target for Serie A giants AC Milan.