Arsenal respond to permanent William Saliba transfer approach

(Image: NurPhoto/PA Images)

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After arriving with plenty of fanfare during Emery's reign, Saliba was immediately loaned back to former club Saint-Etienne.

Injury and the curtailment of the 2019-20 Ligue 1 season saw his opportunities limited, and he returned to north London to play for Arsenal's under-23 side.

He is yet to turn out for the first team, though, and the Marseille loan is his third in as many seasons after spending the second half of the 2020-21 campaign with Nice.

According to L'Equipe (via Metro ), Marseille are keen to make Saliba's loan move permanent, but Arsenal are said to be opposed to letting the player leave.

The 20-year-old was quizzed about his Arsenal future earlier this season, but remained coy, saying "I prefer not to speak about my future, but I’m very good here [in Marseille]".

"I don’t regret my decision. I have been very happy since day one. I have one year here and I am going to give my all," he said.

Saliba started all six of Marseille's group games in this season's Europa League, but Jorge Sampaoli's side dropped down to the Europa Conference League despite conceding just seven goals in the group stage.

The defender has also been a regular in Ligue 1, where Marseille boast the best defensive record in the league and currently sit in the Champions League spots.

Saliba has played for Arsenal's academy side in the Papa John's Trophy, but is waiting for a competitive first team bow
(Image: Getty Images)

Saliba is under contract at Arsenal until June 2024, and will be 21 by the time his Marseille loan comes to an end.

Fellow Gunners defender Calum Chambers is out of contract at the end of this season, while Pablo Mari has been linked with a January move away, so space may have opened up by the end of the current campaign.

"I think there is room," Arteta said when quizzed about Saliba back in October.

"It will depend on what happens with other players and that’s not a conversation to have now."