Arsenal ‘in discussions with Rennes to send William Saliba back to France on loan’ as Mikel Arteta reveals the 19-year-old needs ‘a year of transition’ before being thrown into the first team
Arsenal are in discussions about sending William Saliba back to France on loan, with Rennes keen to take the 19-year-old, according to reports.
Rennes, preparing for their debut campaign in the group stages of the Champions League, are looking to flesh out their squad at centre back and have earmarked 19-year-old Saliba, whose route to the Arsenal first team is seemingly difficult.
According to Ouest-France, Rennes’ interest in Saliba was piqued on Thursday with the potential for a loan deal.
William Saliba is reportedly set for a loan move back to France with Rennes an interested club
Saliba agreed a £29million switch from Saint-Etienne to Arsenal last summer before immediately returning to the Ligue 1 club on loan.
But a collection of injuries hampered his progress and while there were great expectations that he could go straight into Mikel Arteta’s new-look first team this season alongside summer signing Gabriel Magalhaes, who arrived from LOSC Lille, it has not proven the case.
Saliba is yet to make his first team debut for the Gunners and the chance for him to develop with the added bonus of Champions League football may convince player and club for a temporary switch back to his homeland for 2020-21.
The defender joined Arsenal from Saint-Etienne before being sent back to them on a loan deal
Questions were raised when Saliba was unused for Thursday’s Carabao Cup penalty shootout win over Liverpool boss.
Arsenal progressed 5-4 in the shootout with Magalhaes and Rob Holding as the starting centre back pairing. Saliba did not form part of the matchday squad.
Arteta looked to shed light over why the France U20 international – who has been included in just one matchday squad this season, remaining an unused substitute in the Carabao Cup away to Leicester – was again overlooked.
Mikel Arteta admitted on Thursday night that 19-year-old Saliba needs ‘a year of transition’
‘He had a lot of injuries (last year), he had some personal issues and obviously with Covid-19 and the French league getting cancelled, he didn’t have that year, so he needs that year of transition,’ Arteta said.
‘He needs that year of transition and we are trying to make the right decisions for him to make the best possible year of transition for him to have the player we want for our future.’
Joris Gnagnon and Jeremy Morel’s departures this summer to Sevilla and Lorient respectively have left Rennes short in central defence and Saliba would represent a tried and tested option in Ligue 1.