One exiled Arsenal loanee appears to be trying to persuade another against returning to the Emirates as William Saliba prepares for another attempt at getting into the Gunners side
Matteo Guendouzi has risked disrupting Arsenal ‘s transfer plans – by after telling William Saliba he wants him to remain in Marseille alongside him.
Both of the young Frenchman have spent the entirety of the 2021/22 campaign on loan at the Stade Velodrome, but Guendouzi’s loan conditions are different to Saliba’s. While the midfielder returned to France knowing full well a permanent switch was the most likely outcome, Saliba is still expected back in North London from this summer onwards.
Given his reputation as one of the best young central defender’s in Europe, many have been left puzzled by the fact Saliba was signed by the Gunners in the summer of 2019 but is yet to actually make a competitive first-team appearance in nearly three years. It is a saga that has sparked plenty of backlash from both Arsenal fans but also followers in Saliba’s home country of France, who clearly feel the 21-year-old has been underappreciated by Mikel Arteta and co. at the Emirates.
In turn, there have been calls for Saliba to remain in France on a permanent basis – a prospect the former Saint-Etienne man has been faced with on a number of occasions since starting his third loan spell since joining the Gunners.
Saliba’s most recent update surrounding his future was particularly coy as he explained: “The most important thing is to confirm this good season by qualifying for the Champions League. Then we’ll see.” Guendouzi was not as cryptic when discussing his former Arsenal and current Marseille teammate’s future.
Whilst Arsenal are believed to be keen for Saliba to return, Guendouzi declared he hopes to see him stay put in Marseille.
“I hope William stays here. He’s having a great season, he deserves everything that has happened to him. He’s a great guy outside, he’s had a lot of great games,” Guendouzi said.
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Both Saliba and Guendouzi were recently handed call-ups to the France national side for the upcoming round of UEFA Nations League matches.
Guendouzi’s hopes could be scuppered by Arteta, given the Spaniard is rumoured to be keen on getting Saliba back to London Colney as soon as possible to being preparations for next season with the young Frenchman firmly in his plans.
Saliba has recently reflected on his Arsenal struggles to Pro-Direct Soccer France, explaining: “I didn’t play, I played with the under-23s. I still went to the Premier League and it’s an experience that taught me a lot, and I came out of it bigger and much stronger.
“It [being dropped into the academy] was shocking at first. You say to yourself, ‘a £30million transfer all that, people were waiting for you to come’ and then you find yourself in the reserves against players your age. It shocked me at first, I didn’t even want to play.”