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Arsenal to step up contract talks with William Saliba

Arsenal are prepared to step up contract negotiations with William Saliba following his maiden call-up to the France national team, Goal reports.

The 20-year-old joined the Gunners from Saint-Etienne in the summer of 2019, but was immediately loaned back to the Ligue 1 club as part of the deal.

The centre-back was fancied to be integrated into the Gunners’ first-team last season under manager Mikel Arteta, but that did not happen in the end.

Saliba was loaned out to Nice during the back end of the previous campaign. He is now with Marseille, whom he joined on a season-long loan last summer.

It is now reported that the Gunners are willing to negotiate a new long-term deal with the Frenchman. He will enter the final two years of his contract in July.

Saliba has refused to speak on his Gunners future in recent months, but manager Mikel Arteta is deemed to consider him as a key part of his future plans.

The big question lies whether Saliba would be assured regular starts, considering Ben White and Gabriel Magalhaes are undisputed choices in central defence.

A return to Europe would undoubtedly increase the number of games for the Gunners, but Saliba may not welcome the prospect of playing as an alternate choice.

With just over two years left on his contract, he has some control over his destiny. The north London club are bound to consider his sale if he has no plans to renew.

In such a case, the Gunners may want to recoup the entire fee paid. Marseille could look into a permanent deal, though there could be more high-profile offers.

Saliba has hugely impressed for Marseille this term with 1.6 tackles and 2.3 clearances per game. However, his distribution has been the most impressive statistic.

He has completed nearly 93 per cent of his passes in Ligue 1. The youngster has now earned a well-deserved senior France call-up after Benjamin Pavard’s withdrawal.

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