Young Arsenal centre back William Saliba is on the verge of signing for Marseille on a season-long loan deal.
The 20-year old Frenchman has already had two spells away from the Gunners since his £27m transfer from Saint Etienne in the summer of 2019, and has still not yet managed to make a senior appearance for Mikel Arteta’s side.
Following that move, Saliba was sent straight back to the Ligue 1 outfit to spend the 2019/20 season on loan at Saint Etienne, although his time with Les Verts was disrupted with injury, the Covid-19 outbreak and a family bereavement.
He then spent the second half of last season at Nice on a temporary basis, where he largely impressed. Saliba made 20 appearances after his January switch, scoring once in the league and helping Nice to a ninth-placed finish.
It was previously reported that, following a successful loan spell on the Cote d’Azur, Saliba would return to the Emirates Stadium and compete for a starting place – following the departure of David Luiz at the conclusion of the 2020/21 season.
However, with Arsenal set to battle Everton for Brighton central defender Ben White, and competition from Rob Holding, Gabriel and Pablo Mari as out-and-out centre-backs, The Athletic claim that Saliba is set for another spell away from north London.
There is believed to have been interest from a number of Europe’s top five leagues, with Newcastle, Lille and Marseille favourites to land his signature. It appears the latter may get a move over the line, with Saliba preferring a move back to Ligue 1.
Saliba will likely be a first-choice centre back for Les Olympiens under boss Jorge Sampaoli and will play Europa League football following the club’s fifth-placed finish in Ligue 1 last term. It is hoped that he will finally be able to enjoy a full and uninterrupted season of first-team football during the 2021/22 campaign.
Although the news seems like another setback in Saliba’s Arsenal career, it is worth noting that the defender’s contract with the Gunners still runs through to 2024 – and he is very much seen by Arteta as a long-term player at the club.