William Saliba exit plan readied by Arsenal after prepping £17.5m second summer signing – Tom Canton

Arsenal have aimed to be better prepared regarding the transfers of players both in and out of the club. January however rocked the boat with the Gunners left thin in midfield after the African Cup of Nations participants left and Ainsley Maitland-Niles was allowed to leave on loan.

Arsenal signed six players in the summer and have since let go of a whole host more to overhaul Mikel Arteta’s side. Questions linger regarding the futures of a number of players though.

Notably is William Saliba. The French defender is yet to make his senior debut for Arsenal despite signing for the club back in 2019 for £27 million. Three loan spells have since been undertaken with the 20-year-old still with Marseille for this season.

football.london understands that Saliba’s intention is to return to the club and fight for a place in the first team alongside Ben White, Gabriel Magalhaes and Rob Holding.

However, things can quickly change, and the young defender is determined to play regularly whichever shirt he wears.

Saliba has spoken of his shock to not be considered by Mikel Arteta upon his return from the first loan with Saint-Etienne.

“[Arsenal] wanted me to come back in January [2020], I didn’t, I stayed in St Étienne,” he said in an interview with L’Equipe in early 2021 whilst on loan with Nice.

“After that, the fans were really looking forward to my arrival, I certainly didn’t imagine that it would happen like this.

“Aside from that, it is football, I have learned that nothing is certain, you can be there, in your game, and then things can go south. I took a lot of experience from it, at least I will be ready for the future.”

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Should Saliba wish to depart, the Gunners are looking to cover themselves with a swift replacement.

According to Bild, via The Mirror, Frankfurt’s highly-rated defender Evan Ndicka would be available for around £17.5m and Arsenal have been given the green light to pursue to centre half.

Left-footed, Ndicka would be in competition with Gabriel Magalhaes but he can also play on the right of a central defensive pairing. He shares the versatility of Saliba as well as the recovery pace.

Whether the Gunners need to resort to a move for Ndicka will depend on the decision made by either Arteta or Saliba.

The preference would be to keep hold of their rising star who has even drawn interest from Real Madrid of late according to Calcio Mercato.

Saliba fits the youthful mould of what Arteta is building at Arsenal. His distribution has been a highlight in Ligue 1 this season and a trait that the Spanish coach demands of his centre backs.

He is far from the finished article, but it can only be the very final solution to consider a replacement and everything should be done to ensure the former Saint-Etienne man remains at the club.

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