Arsenal have confirmed William Saliba’s loan move to Marseille with technical director Edu explaining the decision has been made in the best interests of the defender’s development.
The 20-year-old signed for the Gunners in July 2019 with a burgeoning reputation as one of French football’s most promising young players, though he was immediately loaned back to Saint-Etienne.
Last summer was supposed to provide a chance to impress Mikel Arteta but instead he was left out of the first-team squad for both the Premier League and Europa League, only turning out a handful of times for Arsenal’s Under-21 team.
In January he made a loan move to Nice and impressed again, making 22 appearances as the side finished ninth in Ligue 1, but he still does not feature in Arteta’s immediate first-team plans despite the departure of fellow centre-back David Luiz.
Instead, Saliba will play the 2021/22 season with Marseille, joining fellow Arsenal outcast Matteo Guendouzi in the south of France.
The centre-back has been promised a regular role in the team and Edu says both Arsenal and the player himself are in agreement that another loan is the best option for his development.
‘Together with William, we have decided it will be good for his continued development to spend another season on loan,’ said the Brazilian technical director on Thursday.
‘William joined us as an 18-year-old, and he is still only 20, so he is still developing all the time.
‘William is a player with strong natural ability and next season has the potential to be really beneficial for him at Marseille, a good club.
‘To play another season in Ligue 1 will be very important for his development.
‘We will of course be keeping in close contact with William during the season and wish him all the best in France with Marseille.’
Saliba’s loan move to Marseille does not include either an obligation or an option for the French club to buy him outright, and Edu’s comments suggest there is real optimism that he will make the grade in north London eventually.
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