William Saliba is claimed to be keen on staying at Marseille beyond the summer, while Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has claimed that he must return.
It was reported today that his on-loan club have been cleared to make a move for his signature this summer, after they sent their ban to be appealed, with the hearing now put back until October, meaning they can enter into the transfer market.
What that could mean however is that the French side may splash a little extra cash in the knowledge that they could well be banned from bringing in any new players in the next two windows, and Saliba represents an option who would not only improve them ahead of the coming season, but he should continue to improve years after too.
The player himself wants to continue in his current role, which could be good and bad for us. One the one hand, we want to keep our squad as strong as possible as we look to mount a serious bid to return to the Champions League, whilst on the other hand, Saliba helped Marseille to qualify for the CL this term, and could greatly profit from the experience of playing in that competition this season.
One more season of first-team football in his current surroundings could also be of great benefit to us, especially while we already have both Ben White and Gabriel Magalhaes set to continue to build on their already positive partnership.
The problem lies in how things will feel in 12 months time. If we allow him to leave, it would have to be on the back of a new contract for the youngster, and in the agreement that we wanted him to play for us this term, but will allow him to continue under the pretence that he is to play in our first-team if all is well in a year. We can’t allow Saliba to leave because he feels like he isn’t wanted by the manager or the club, and we also need to avoid him falling in love with his current club too strongly also.
You could also argue that in another year that White and Gabriel could well have an even stronger understanding at the back, and that our return to the Europa League this term would have been enough to give Saliba his fair share of minutes in the opening months of the campaign as he looks to work his way up the pecking order.
In an ideal world, we let Saliba have what he wants and he comes back to take up a role in our first-team next season, but that seems awfully complicated. Another ideal situation is that he stays with us this term, is happy being rotated with Gabriel or White initially and swiftly earns a key role in our side similarly to how Aaron Ramsdale did this term, and he gets his wish to play in the Champions League 12 months later after helping us to break into the top four.
Either way, I feel like a new contract should be our priority while we need to sit down and discuss the long-term plan with our young star, as all our previous decisions feel like they have risked his long-term Arsenal future.
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