The central defender is yet to make a senior appearance for Arsenal and will spend another season out on loanin Ligue 1 this time joining up with Marseille
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William Saliba has revealed he ignored Arsenal’s request to join a club in the Premier League, instead opting to return to France.
The 20-year-old has yet to make a senior appearance for the Gunners, two years on from his £27million move from Saint-Etienne.
Saliba returned to his former club in the 2019/20 season, with hopes that he would be a part of Arsenal ’s squad a year later.
However, injuries and the curtailment to the Ligue 1 campaign due to Covid, meant Mikel Arteta felt he hadn’t played enough football to challenge for a place at the Emirates.
The Gunners boss made the decision to omit the Frenchman from his Premier League squad at the start of last term, limiting his appearances to the under-23s.
He was then allowed to join Nice on loan, impressing in the final months of the season.
Arteta had hinted that Saliba would be a part of his team this time around, particularly in the absence of the departed David Luiz.
But he was ultimately allowed to once again depart on loan, with Ben White’s £50m arrival from Brighton set to limit his chances at the back.
The central defender has now been officially unveiled as a Marseille player, but he has admitted that Arsenal would have preferred him to stay in England.
“I had the speech of Pablo, that of the coach. I knew that this is where I was going to play this season, with a stadium on fire and supporters who expect a lot, for a 20 year old youngster like me and that can only do me good,” he told La Provence via Sport Witness.
“It was I who chose Marseille, Arsenal preferred that I go to England but I knew that here it was the right choice. I pushed and pushed for that.”
Were Arsenal right to allow William Saliba to go out on loan again? Have your say in the comments
There is the belief that Saliba will be open to play in any of the three spots in Jorge Sampaoli’s defence as they look to compete with Paris Saint-Germain and Lille for the Ligue 1 title.
Marseille’s sporting director Pablo Longoria has heaped praise on the Arsenal star, suggesting he could become one of the top players in his position.
“William has extraordinary potential in Europe, he has all the abilities of a modern player,” Longaria explained. “With the experience he has, he has everything to succeed at a high level. He is one of the players who were our first choices.”
It is understood that Arsenal did not include any option for Saliba’s move to become permanent next summer, with Arteta still describing him as a “long-term player”.
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