Arsenal blamed for frustration over Saliba loan as Saint Etienne misses defender’s loan deal

The Ligue 1 team were hoping to see a familiar face return to their ranks, but delays on deadline day meant no movement had been made

Saint-Etienne blamed Arsenal for William Saliba’s frustration on deadline day, with the Ligue 1 side saying they had a loan deal “well before the transfer window closed.”

The 19-year-old defender was due to leave Emirates Stadium before the summer market closes.

He only officially partnered with the Gunners during the summer, after spending the 2019-2020 campaign with Saint-Etienne.

Big things were expected from the north London teenager, but Mikel Arteta has so far decided not to play him at the start of the new season.

This left a door open for more important minutes to be collected elsewhere, with ASSE eager to welcome a familiar face into its books.

They claim to have everything in place on their side, only for Arsenal delays in seeing the window close with Saliba still in England.

A statement on the French club official site read: “Long before the transfer window closed, AS Saint-Etienne had reached an agreement with William Saliba and accepted Arsenal’s offer for a one-season loan.

“Unfortunately, all the administrative conditions could not be met in time in England for the conclusion of the agreement.

“The disappointment is great for ASSE and William Saliba, who was particularly determined to return to a club where he flourished.

Saliba, who had also seen a Fulham loan hinted at at one point, must now focus on trying to find his way into Arteta’s plans before the January window opens.

It may prove difficult, with the Arsenal boss revealing that the youngster still has work to do before he can be considered for competitive outings.

The Gunners boss said when asked to explain Saliba’s lack of action so far: “He had a year last year where Arsenal loaned him to Saint-Etienne and that was a year of transition for him.

“For many reasons this was not the transition year he needed as he had a lot of injuries, some personal issues and also with the cancellation of Covid and the French league he did not have this that year.

“He needs this transition year and we are trying to make the right decisions for him to give him the best transition year to have the player we want in our future.”

Arsenal have favored David Luiz, Kieran Tierney and the summer signing of Gabriel Magalhaes in a three-man defensive unit that remains a work in progress.

About Jonathan J. Kramer

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