Arsenal centre back William Saliba is set to join Marseille on loan for the upcoming season, but one report has suggested the French side may have negotiated themselves an option to buy Saliba permanently.
The 20-year-old spent the first half of last season in exile under Mikel Arteta but impressed after being sent out on loan to Nice, making 20 appearances in Ligue 1 and adding his only goal of the campaign to seal a 3-2 victory over Lyon on the final day of the season.
There had been hopes that he would get a chance under Arteta this year, but that’s not the case as he is close to sealing a switch to Marseille, and L’Equipe had Arsenal fans sweating by claiming there was an option for the French side to sign Saliba permanently for just £8.5m.
The idea of Arsenal agreeing to let Saliba go for £8.5m is mental. They signed him for £27m just two years ago, and although his spell in England has been comical at times, he has still looked like one of the best young defenders in France when out on loan. There’s no reason for them to accept a massive loss on him.
Unsurprisingly, this was questioned by Marseille-based La Provence, who stressed that Saliba’s loan does not include an option to buy. The source who broke the news in England, David Ornstein, also admitted he knew nothing of an option but was adamant that Arsenal would not sell for such a low price anyway.
After attracting a lot of negative attention for their claim, L’Equipe went back into their article and edited it by removing the £8.5m figure, but interestingly they kept the mention of the option to buy.
Their final stance is that Marseille will have the option to buy Saliba permanently, although they are no longer confident enough to commit to a figure.
That’s by no means official just yet. Almost every other source reporting on Saliba’s move to Marseille is in agreement that Arsenal still see the 20-year-old as a crucial part of their future, dismissing the idea of them cashing in early.
Adding to the complication is Marseille’s move to sign Arsenal midfielder Matteo Guendouzi, who is also set to join the French side on loan.
Guendouzi’s move will become permanent next summer for a fee of around £9.5m – a cut-price fee given his contract has just 12 months left to run.