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William Saliba offers cutting response on why he doesn’t want to return to Arsenal

Arsenal defender William Saliba joined Marseille on a season-long loan last summer and although the Ligue 1 club have no option to make the deal permanent, the player would like to return

William Saliba has publicly declared he wants to stay at Marseille next season, where he will have the chance to play in the Champions League.

Having signed for Arsenal in a deal worth £27million in the summer of 2019, there were high hopes for the young Frenchman, who was subsequently allowed to return to St. Etienne on loan. But having failed to earn the kind of minutes the Gunners had hoped for, he was left out of their Premier League and Europa League squads for the following campaign.

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Saliba then spent the following year with Nice, before Mikel Arteta sanctioned another loan move to Marseille at the start of this season. “I know that sometimes it’s difficult to explain or understand after the money that the club has spent trying to bring him in, to send him on loan. But a lot of things have happened to him,” Arteta said of the decision to allow him out on loan.

“He’s a long-term player for us and we need to protect him as well. And giving him three or four games is not enough. He’s very happy to go there now. Hopefully, he can enjoy his football and be ready for us for next season.”

And while Ben White and Gabriel have built an impressive early relationship at the Emirates, Saliba has thrived during his time playing under Jorge Sampaoli. The 21-year-old has been a mainstay for Marseille and has played a key role in their second-placed finish.

Marseille’s emphatic 4-0 win over Strasbourg on the final day ensured the French giants will be in next season’s Champions League, a fate that now appears unlikely for his parent club. Going into their last game of the season, the Gunners need a near-miracle, including already relegated Norwich City beating Tottenham.

William Saliba was awarded the Ligue 1 Young Player of the Season for his performances at Marseille


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Getty Images)

HAVE YOUR SAY! Should Saliba be included in Arsenal’s starting XI next season? Let us know in the comments

Reports earlier this week had suggested that the central defender was hoping to stay in France, something he has now confirmed. Speaking after beating Strasbourg, Saliba was asked about his plans for next season and pointed to the fact Marseille could offer him a place in Europe’s top competition.

“I want to come back and play the Champions League.,” he explained. “I have never played in it and I want to discover it here.”

Matteo Guendouzi is another Arsenal player on-loan at the Stade Velodrome – although his deal will become official at the end of the season – and the combative midfielder admits he is hoping to link up with Saliba again next season.

“I hope William stays here. He’s having a great season, he deserves everything that has happened to him,” Guendouzi said earlier this week. “He’s a great guy outside, he’s had a lot of great games.”

Saliba recently opened up on his struggles in north London and the “shocking moment” he was forced to play with the reserves, after being ostracised from the senior team.

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“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,” he told Pro Direct Soccer France.

“It was shocking at first (being dropped into the academy). 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. When they buy you for £30million and drop you in the reserves, it hurts.”

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