In an apparent and unexpected U-turn, William Saliba could be in line to play his final match for Saint-Etienne in the French Cup final after positive talks between Arsenal and the Ligue 1 side.
Saint-Etienne accused Arsenal of ‘absolutely unacceptable sports and financial conditions’ after denying the defender the chance to play his final game for the club – having returned to Les Verts on loan for the entire 2019/20 season immediately after signing for the English side.
The reasons for that were because the Gunners would be forced to pay a bonus of €2.5m to the club if Saliba played one more match, and were not obliged to do so since his loan move expired on 30 June. Statements from both clubs refuted each other’s claims, and the issue looked settled.
An excerpt from their statement read: “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.
“Despite the loan ending on June 30, we were willing to find a way for William to play in the [French] cup final on July 24, despite having no contractual obligation to do so. This was also not acceptable to St 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.”
However, L’Equipe have said that talks have resumed of late, with a far more positive outlook for all parties involved. The publication claims that Saint-Etienne could forgo the €2.5m bonus entirely, then temporarily extend Saliba’s loan for the cup final and allow Arsenal to satisfy their player’s wishes.
It’s said that an amicable outcome is now likely, with Saliba in line to return to his former employers by Friday, where he can resume training ahead of the 24 July Coupe de France final against Paris Saint-Germain.
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