William Saliba has ‘earned the right’ to play for Saint-Etienne in Coupe de France final, says Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta

Arsenal signing William Saliba during Saint-Etienne's clash with Stade Rennais
Arsenal have given Saint-Etienne permission to field William Saliba (Picture: Getty)

Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta says William Saliba has ‘earned the right’ to play for Saint-Etienne in their Coupe de France final with Paris Saint-Germain next month.

Saliba, 19, joined Arsenal in a £27million move last summer but was immediately loaned back to Saint-Etienne for the 2019/20 campaign to aid his development and guarantee regular playing time.

However, the impact of the coronavirus crisis on French football means there has been uncertainty over whether the central defender will be able to feature in the side’s all-important cup final on July 24.

Mikel Arteta leads Arsenal training session
Arteta is happy to let Saliba play in the Coupe de France final (Picture: Getty)

Saliba’s temporary deal expires today and Saint-Etienne boss Claude Puel last week pleaded with the Gunners to extend their agreement.

‘William is at the end of his contract at the end of the month,’ the Saint-Etienne manager said at his press conference last 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.’

AS Saint-Etienne v Stade Reims - Ligue 1
The defender has struggled with injuries at Saint-Etienne this season (Picture: Getty)

At his press conference on Tuesday, Arteta appeared to confirm that the club had given Saint-Etienne permission to field the France Under-20 international in the cup final.

‘I think he needs to stay there,’ Arteta said.

‘We’ve got an agreement with Saint-Etienne and he’s earned his right to play that final.’

Saint-Etienne’s clash with PSG represents the club’s last chance to secure qualification for the Europa League so Puel has been desperate to secure an extension for the teenager to allow him to compete.

Arteta is reluctant to put too much pressure on Saliba given his age and says he’s been in contact with the centre-half across the season.

‘I spoke with him a few times,’ the Spaniard added.

‘We’ve been following his season, he had a difficult season with injuries.

‘I know how high expectations are for him next season but we have to bear in mind his age.’

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