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Arsenal respond to Saint-Etienne’s William Saliba claims after French club blasted club for ‘unacceptable’ Coupe de France final U-turn

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The Ligue 1 club hit out at the Gunners on Tuesday night, accusing them of making ‘unacceptable’ demands over extending Saliba’s stay for another month to enable him to feature in the French Cup final against Paris Saint-Germain.



William Saliba was spotted in Arsenal kit during a training session at London Colney back in September

Arsenal signed French starlet Saliba last summer before loaning him back to Saint-Etienne for the season.

The Ligue 1 campaign was cancelled back in April due to the coronavirus crisis, but Saint-Etienne still have one match left to play – the Coupe de France final on July 24.

The French club were hoping the game would provide one last hurrah for Saliba before leaving for London, but their hopes of him playing rested on agreeing an extension to his loan from Arsenal, which officially ended on June 30.

Manager Mikel Artrta had said last week that he was happy for Saliba to stay and play in the final against PSG.

However, the clubs have failed to come to an agreement over a short-term extension to his loan, and so he will NOT play any part in the match.

Arsenal were seeking assurances over Saliba’s training schedule, which led to a breakdown of negotiations – leaving Saint-Etienne fuming.



William Saliba made 15 appearances for Saint-Etienne before the Ligue 1 campaign was cut short

In a damning statement on their website, headlined ‘William Saliba deprived of the final by Arsenal’, the French club stated:

“AS Saint-Etienne was pleased to learn yesterday [Tuesday] that Mikel Arteta, Arsenal coach, was ready to leave William Saliba at the disposal of the club until the final of the Coupe de France, on July 24.

“William Saliba had been training for several days with Claude Puel’s group and was obviously very enthusiastic about the idea of finishing his course in Green with such a match.

“Alas, ASSE, which simply wanted the extension of the initial loan until July 24, could not find an agreement in the evening with Arsenal to allow the defender to properly prepare and play this meeting, the English club imposing absolutely unacceptable sports and financial conditions.”

However, Arsenal responded with their side of the story on Wednesday morning, insisting they were willing to allow Saliba to play as long as Saint-Etienne followed ‘a clear training plan’ set by the Gunners.

But they claim ‘to their surprise’ they were unable to reach an agreement with the French club to their plan.

“Throughout our discussions with St Etienne, our aim has been to protect the welfare of William Saliba as well as the interests of Arsenal Football Club, while honouring the terms of the loan,” read a statement on Arsenal’s website.

“Despite the loan ending on June 30, we were willing to find a way for William to play in the [French] cup final on July 24, despite having no contractual obligation to do so.

“As William is returning from injury, we asked that St Etienne follow a clear training plan with William in close collaboration with us, to ensure he is fully fit for the start of next season.

“To our surprise we were unable to reach agreement to this plan which was proposed by our medical experts, and we are simply not prepared to risk the welfare of an Arsenal player.

“While it was not our primary concern, and ultimately not relevant as our training plan was not accepted, we also expected not to be financially disadvantaged by extending the loan. This was also not acceptable to St Etienne.

“We know this is a disappointment for William but he understands we are working to protect his long-term interests and those of Arsenal.”

Laura Woods is hoping Arsenal can emulate Chelsea and win the Premier League title next season with no European football

Getty Images


Mikel Arteta was happy for Sailba to play against PSG, but Arsenal and Saint-Etienne failed come to an agreement

Arteta was asked last week about Saliba playing in the French Cup final, and it appeared he had no problem with the youngster lining up against PSG.

“He has earned his right to play that final if their manager wants to do that,” said the Gunners boss.

“So I think we have to give him the opportunity to do that, to enjoy that and we can have him after that.”

The French youngster cost Arsenal £27million last summer, and played a further 15 games during his loan spell back at Saint-Etienne this season before the campaign was ended due to COVID-19.

Saliba was spotted training at Arsenal’s London Colney training centre back in September as he recovered from knee surgery, before returning to France.

But it now appears he is set to join back up with Arteta’s side in the coming weeks instead of having the chance of one last game in a Saint-Etienne shirt after four years at the club.

For more news relating to Chelsea, visit our sister site Chelsea Live.
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