Mikel Arteta reacts to rumours Arsenal have done U-turn over William Saliba’s participation in the Coupe de France final

Mikel Arteta reacts to rumours Arsenal have done U-turn over William Saliba's participation in the Coupe de France
The 19-year-old defender is desperate to play in the final later this month (Picture: Getty)

Mikel Arteta has confirmed that Arsenal and Saint-Etienne have restarted talks to enable William Saliba to play in the Coupe de France final later this month against Paris Saint-Germain.

The coronavirus crisis saw the showpiece postponed until July 24, though Saliba’s loan with Saint-Etienne expired last month and the two clubs had been at loggerheads over a short-term extension.

Arsenal had insisted that Saliba, who struggled with injuries this past season, must follow their own training regime while preparing for the final, something the French club described as ‘unacceptable’, while they also wanted to scrap a clause in their original deal.

William Saliba in Arsenal Training Session
Saint-Etienne would be owed £2.2m by Arsenal if Saliba starts the final (Picture: Getty)

Saliba was reportedly ‘angered’ by Arsenal’s approach, though French newspaper L’Equipe claim fresh meetings have been more positive and the Gunners are now prepared to commit to a U-turn on their original demands.

Asked after Arsenal’s 1-1 draw against Leicester City on Tuesday evening if Saliba would play in the Coupe de France final or come back to London, Arteta said: ‘The clubs are dealing with the situation.

‘You know what happened in the last few days, I prefer to stay a little bit away from that.

‘Hopefully they can find a good agreement and end the situation in good terms, help the player as well and contribute to have good faith and be positive about the situation.’

Asked once more if the deal is still yet to be sorted, but is being discussed, Arteta responded in the affirmative.

Mikel Arteta during Arsenal FC v Leicester City - Premier League
Arteta is excited to start working with Saliba, who is regarded as a huge talent (Picture: Getty)

Arsenal are believed to be refusing to agree to pay Saint-Etienne a €2.5million (£2.2m) bonus they would owe should Saliba start in the Coupe de France final, a clause that was agreed when he first signed last summer.

The Gunners want that fee waived if they permit to let Saliba stay, with both the French club and the young defender himself unhappy with the approach taken by the north Londoners and managing director Vinai Venkatesham in particular.

Arteta – who rates Saliba as a huge prospect for the future and is keen to start working with him – has always been of the belief that the 19-year-old should be given the opportunity to lift silverware with his boyhood club.

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