Mikel Arteta discovers another reason to include William Saliba in his Arsenal plans next season

Arsenal’s updated Premier League squad for the 2021/22 season includes William Saliba.

This is rather significant should the Frenchman finally be involved in the first-team setup at the Emirates Stadium within the next two seasons having failed to make a senior appearance following his £27million transfer from Saint Etienne in the summer of 2019.

After the January transfer window closed, the Gunners and the other 19 Premier League were permitted to submit updated squad lists for the remainder of the campaign.

Each team could name up to 25 players, although the squad could contain no more than 17 players who do not fulfil the ‘Home Grown Player’ (HGP) criteria.

To be considered homegrown, players need to have been registered with any club affiliated to The Football Association or the Welsh FA for a period, continuous or not, of three entire seasons, or 36 months, before his 21st birthday (or the end of the season during which he turns 21).

As a result, Jonathan Dinzeyi, Rob Holding, Eddie Nketiah, Aaron Ramsdale and Benjamin White are the five homegrown players named in Arsenal’s 17-man Premier League squad.

But Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith Rowe, Gabriel Martinelli and Nuno Tavares are part of a lengthy list of Under-21 players.

As is Saliba, and this is despite the defender spending the season on loan at Marseille.

This is because, as per Premier League rules: “An Under-21 player is defined as one who is under the age of 21 on 1st January in the year in which the season commences.

“Under-21 players are eligible over and above the limit of 25 players per squad. For the 2021/22 campaign, Under-21 players will have been born on or after 1 January 2000.”

William Saliba is currently on loan at Marseille from Arsenal
William Saliba is currently on loan at Marseille from Arsenal

So this means for the 2022/23 campaign, Under-21 players will have been born on or after 1 January 2001.

As Saliba was born on 24 March 2001, if he was to get a chance at Arsenal next season, he along with Saka and Martinelli wouldn’t have to be registered in the 25-man Premier League squad.

However, because the 20-year-old was also registered in the Gunners’ additional list of each eligible Under-21 players for the 2019/20 as well as the 2020/21 campaigns it means he will be considered a homegrown player from next season.

It’s a rather astute move on Arsenal’s part as Saliba being a homegrown player frees up space in the squad for potential non-homegrown signings in future transfer windows.

Amid links to Jonathan David, Youri Tielemans, Renato Sanches and Matt Turner, if Saliba is included in the Gunners’ squad within the next two seasons, it won’t impact Mikel Arteta and Edu’s plans, if they have any, to sign at least one of the aforementioned quartet.

If Arteta wasn’t convinced by the Frenchman’s form at Marseille to include the defender in his plans for next season, then the impact of potential transfers to improve his squad is another reason.

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