Football

Saint-Etienne's on-loan defender William Saliba set for Arsenal return

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

Saliba, who signed for Arsenal from Saint-Etienne last year for £27 million (S$46.4m), 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.

"Throughout our discussions with Saint-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," the Gunners said in a statement.

Saint-Etienne accused Arsenal of imposing "absolutely unacceptable sporting and financial conditions", but the Gunners said they were unhappy with the training plans for the 19-year-old Saliba.

"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.

Arsenal also announced the contract extension of 18-year-old forward Bukayo Saka.

The England Under-19 international, who has three goals and 10 assists in 33 appearances for the Gunners this season, has committed to a four-year contract, according to sources.

Meanwhile, Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta spoke about Mesut Oezil's disappointment at not featuring since the EPL restart but said he will select players based only on their form.

Oezil was left out of the squad for the defeat by Manchester City and was an unused substitute in games at Brighton & Hove Albion and Southampton.

He also missed Arsenal's 2-1 FA Cup quarter-final victory over Sheffield United on Sunday due to a back injury.

"I believe he's not very happy because he's not playing. I want all my players at their best and to be able to pick them to help the squad... that's the only intention I have," Arteta said. - REUTERS

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