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William Saliba to return to Arsenal - and miss French Cup final

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Houssem AOUAR of Lyon and William SALIBA of Saint Etienne during the Ligue 1 match between AS Saint-Etienne and Olympique Lyon at Stade Geoffroy-Guichard on October 6, 2019

Image credit: Getty Images

ByCarrie Dunn
01/07/2020 at 07:36 | Updated 01/07/2020 at 11:15
@carriesparkle

On-loan William Saliba will be returning to parent club Arsenal immediately - and missing out on the French Cup final with AS Saint-Etienne.

The teenager signed for Arsenal from Saint-Etienne last summer for around £27 million, but as part of the deal returned to them on loan for a year.

The Ligue 1 side hoped that Saliba would stay with them until after the French Cup final on July 24 - and got Gunners boss Mikel Arteta's buy-in.

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However, they could not hammer out an agreement with the club, and released a statement that read: "William Saliba had been training for several days with Claude Puel's group and was obviously very enthusiastic about the idea of ​​finishing his time in green with such a match.

"Alas, ASSE, which simply wanted the extension of the initial loan until July 24, could not find an agreement in the evening with Arsenal to allow the defender to properly prepare and play this meeting, the English club imposing absolutely unacceptable sports and financial conditions."

But Arsenal hit back with a statement of their own, hinting that they were being asked to make a financial payment. It transpires that if Saliba starts 17 matches in all competitions in the 2019/20 season, they will need to pay an extra €2.5 million in addition to his original transfer fee.

Currently, he has 16 appearances under his belt - so the Gunners asked for that clause to be cancelled.

"As William is returning from injury, we asked that St Etienne follow a clear training plan with William in close collaboration with us, to ensure he is fully fit for the start of next season," the club said.

"To our surprise we were unable to reach agreement to this plan which was proposed by our medical experts, and we are simply not prepared to risk the welfare of an Arsenal player.

"While it was not our primary concern, and ultimately not relevant as our training plan was not accepted, we also expected not to be financially disadvantaged by extending the loan. This was also not acceptable to Saint-Etienne.

"We know this is a disappointment for William but he understands we are working to protect his long-term interests and those of Arsenal.”

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