Mikel Arteta makes William Saliba stance clear as hint given over Arsenal role

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Mikel Arteta has made his stance clear over William Saliba ahead of the transfer window with interest high in the defender. The Frenchman has been linked with a return to Marseille, but they are not the only ones.

Arsenal boss Arteta has outlined what role Saliba will take on next season as he ensures that the defender will not be going anywhere this summer. The Frenchman had a stellar season for Marseille, leading them to a second-place position in Ligue 1.

Jorge Sampaoli is a huge fan of the defender and is desperate for him to stay – a feeling that was made mutual when Saliba insisted he was loving life at the Velodrome. After claiming runners-up spot in the league ahead of Monaco, he said: “I want to come back and play the Champions League. I have never played in it and I want to discover it here.”

That sent alarm bells ringing at Arsenal, who would go on to finish fifth in the Premier League and are now destined to play in the Europa League. However, Arteta laid down the gauntlet by insisting that the Gunners were not prepared to let Saliba go.

And he has gone one step further by following up his claims with action by preparing to offer the 21-year-old a new contract that will extend his time at the Emirates past the original 2024 date, according to L’Equipe, via Sport Witness. The club have also insisted that he will take on a key role in the squad.

As well as playing in the Champions League, Saliba’s main ambition is to break into the France team ahead of the World Cup this winter in Qatar. The youngster has already played for Les Bleus this season as a result of his fine form at Marseille.

However, a decline in playing time could be detrimental – especially considering the large pool of French centre-backs also gunning for a spot in Didier Deschamps’ squad. Ibrahima Konate, Dayot Upamecano, Kurt Zouma and Clement Lenglet are all vying while Raphael Varane and Presnel Kimpembe might consider themselves as sure bets.

Saliba signed for Arsenal in 2019 from Saint-Etienne for £27million but has yet to make a single appearance for them. Instead, the defender has been out on loan three times in France.

The first was part of the deal with Saint-Etienne where he returned there for a year to continue his development before joining OGC Nice the following season. Last summer, he decided against a move to Newcastle to move to Marseille where he has had his best year to date.

It was only last week when Saliba insisted that his future belongs to Arsenal, further denting Marseille’s ambitions to land the centre-back this summer. “I belong to Arsenal, I still have two years left,” he said.

“I will be at pre-season with Arsenal. I have played zero matches and I still want to show them my true talent and have the chance to play for these fans and this great club.”

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