The Frenchman has been linked with a permanent move away from the Emirates but now looks set to come back in the summer.
The 20-year-old joined the Gunners all the way back in the summer of 2019, but is still yet to make his senior competitive debut for Mikel Arteta’s side, with his only appearances coming for the under-23s and in pre-season friendlies.
In that time he has been sent back to Ligue 1 for three separate loan spells, first with St. Etienne, then with Nice last year, and most recently with Marseille, where he has continued to impress, making 27 appearances and keeping 14 clean sheets.
William Saliba has the best true tackle success rate of any player to attempt 20+ tackles in Ligue 1 this season:
◉ 82% true tackle success
◎ 22 tackles attempted
◎ 18 tackles made
◎ 2 fouls from tackle attempts
◎ 2x dribbled past
Squeaky clean. 🧼 https://t.co/G3gNTdBxhF
L’OM have reportedly been keen to take Saliba on a permanent deal in the summer, but now it is understood that the Frenchman is instead keen on a return to the Emirates his preference is to return to the Emirates and establish himself with the Gunners.
With Arsenal having forked out £50million to sign Ben White in the summer, who has struck up an excellent relationship with Gabriel, it was decided that Saliba should leave to get regular game time elsewhere.
The club still have Rob Holding and Calum Chambers to call upon as backup options, while Pablo Mari also served that function until his loan move to Udinese this month.
But the situation is changing in the summer, with Mari likely to leave on a permanent basis and Chambers out of contract at the end of the season – with the defender expected to leave on a free transfer, that would present Saliba with the opportunity to become the third choice centre-half and he is keen to rejoin the Arsenal squad and start applying pressure to White and Gabriel to get in the starting XI.
Contrary to the popular opinion on whether Saliba would be ready to fight for his shirt, however, most have forgot that having more than two perfect Center-backs is one of the requirements for the ‘big guns’.
For example Manchester City have Laporte, Dias, Stones and Ake that can play as a CB or RB. Also, Manchester United acquired the service of Raphael Varane despite having Maguire and Lindelof.
Arsenal also feel that he can cover at right-back as a backup for Takehiro Tomiyasu and is a more natural, like-for-like replacement for the Japanese defender than Cedric Soares.
Arteta has previously said he expects Saliba to return, explaining last year: ‘He will come back for pre-season and he will be with us.
Hopefully he will come back after playing a number of games and his performance raising and his development progressing in the right way. That’s why we made that decision.’