Saliba set for Arsenal return after loan talks with St Etienne collapse

Reuters , Wednesday 1 Jul 2020

Arsenal will not extend William Saliba's loan deal at St Etienne after the two clubs failed to agree training and financial terms for the French defender, the Premier League club said on Wednesday.

Saliba, who signed for Arsenal from St Etienne last year for a reported 27 million pounds ($33.42 million), was loaned back to the French club for the 2019-20 campaign.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ligue 1 season was terminated early and the Coupe de France final was moved to July 24, several weeks after Saliba's loan was due to end on June 30.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta had indicated on Tuesday that the teenage defender would stay for the cup final against Paris St Germain but talks between the two clubs broke down before the deadline of midnight.

"Throughout our discussions with St Etienne, our aim has been to protect the welfare of William Saliba as well as the interests of Arsenal, while honouring the terms of the loan," Arsenal said in a statement.

In a statement, St Etienne accused Arsenal of imposing "absolutely unacceptable sporting and financial conditions" but Arsenal said they were unhappy with the training plans for Saliba, who has missed three months of the season with a broken foot.

"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," the north London club said.

"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."

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