Arsenal centre-back William Saliba is being linked with a return to former side Saint-Etienne on a season-long loan deal.
The teenage defender made the £27 million move to Arsenal last summer before spending last season on loan at the Ligue 1 side to continue his development, linking up with Mikel Arteta’s squad for pre-season where he was expected to compete for a first-team place.
Saliba was named on the substitutes bench for the Community Shield victory over Liverpool and the Carabao Cup win a Leicester, but is yet to make an appearance for the Gunners in any competition to date.
According to L’Equipe, the 19-year-old could now return to the French side for a second loan spell given the north London side’s abundance of options at centre-back, with Arteta having been unable to shift the likes of Shkodran Mustafi and Sokratis despite the duo being deemed surplus to requirements.
Should the move happen, it is a remarkable turn of events given the two clubs were unable to come to an agreement regarding Saliba’s future earlier this summer, Arsenal refusing to extend the defender’s loan spell so that he could play in the final of the Coupe de France in July.
Saint-Etienne described the Premier League side’s demands over an extension as ‘absolutely unacceptable’ and were left disappointed by Saliba’s absence for the final defeat to Paris Saint-Germain, the youngster joining up with Arsenal for pre-season.
Tensions between the two sides appear to have eased, however, Arteta reportedly prepared to sanction a loan deal with the likes of Gabriel, Rob Holding, David Luiz and Pablo Mari available options at centre-back this season.