Saint-Etienne boss Claude Puel issues plea to Arsenal over short-term William Saliba deal

Arsenal signing William Saliba during Saint-Etienne's clash with Rennes
Arsenal loaned William Saliba back to Saint-Etienne last summer (Picture: Getty)

Saint-Etienne manager Claude Puel says he hopes to have William Saliba available for the Coupe de France final, despite the defender’s deal coming to an end before their clash with Paris Saint-Germain.

Saliba completed a £27million move to Arsenal last summer but the 19-year-old centre-back was immediately loaned back to Saint-Etienne for the 2019/20 campaign.

The impact of the coronavirus crisis on French football means Saliba’s temporary agreement ceases before the cup final which is scheduled to take place on July 24.

AS Saint-Etienne v Stade Reims - Ligue 1
Saliba’s loan agreement expires on June 30 (Picture: Getty)

There are just five days remaining on Saliba’s deal as it stands but it’s clear Saint-Etienne have plans to field the youngster against PSG, with Puel issuing a plea to Arsenal to allow the youngster to take part given the exceptional circumstances.

Puel is desperate to have his key players available for the match considering a victory would secure their place in next season’s Europa League.

‘William is at the end of his contract at the end of the month,’ the Saint-Etienne head coach said at his press conference on Wednesday.

‘He takes great pleasure in training with his team.

‘We will see what can be done to keep him a little longer with us.’

Press Conference
Puel’s side will qualify for the Europa League if they beat PSG (Picture: Getty)

Puel added: ‘We ended last season with players who were coming to the end of the contract, with players who were suspended during the season and who could not serve their suspensions.

‘I think it’s unfortunate that we did not take into consideration an exceptional case with a four-month gap.

‘They will be deprived of the finals and we will be deprived of them.

‘We also have players at the end of the contract, we will take stock. Loic Perrin is with us and may have this possibility of extending.

‘We made an offer to Yohan Cabaye, we await the answer.’

William Saliba makes a tackle during Saint-Etienne's clash with Stade Brestois 29
The France Under-20 international cost Arsenal around £27m (Picture: Getty)

Speaking to talkSPORT earlier this month, Martin Keown questioned Arsenal’s decision to send Saliba back to Saint-Etienne last summer.

‘There’s an awful lot of work to be done in there in defence,’ the ex-Arsenal centre-half said.

‘There was the defender from Saint-Etienne, William Saliba, who they paid £27m for but was loaned back again.

‘I could’t quite work that out because now I’m being told he’s world-class.

‘Never mind if he’s world-class, if he was Premier League class it would have been good enough because that was an area of concern.’

The youngster was being touted as a possible replacement for David Luiz but the Brazil international put an end to the uncertainty around his future this week by putting pen to paper on a one-year extension at the Emirates.

Saliba will also have to compete with Pablo Mari for a place in central defence after the Spaniard signed a permanent deal with the Gunners.

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