Arsenal have completed the signing of William Saliba from St. Etienne, before loaning him back to the Ligue 1 club for the season.

Montpellier’s French forward Gaitan Laborde (L) vies with Saint-Etienne’s French forward William Saliba (R) during the French L1 football match between Saint-Etienne (ASSE) and Montpellier (MHSC) on May 10, 2019, at the Geoffroy Guichard Stadium in Saint-Etienne, central France. (Photo by JEAN-PHILIPPE KSIAZEK / AFP / Getty Images)

Arsenal have confirmed the permanent transfer of Saliba this summer, with the 18-year-old defender moving back to France for the 2019/20 campaign.

Saliba is a French centre-back who rose to prominence in Ligue 1 last season. He made his debut at 17 last September, before featuring 18 more times between then and May.

The teenager helped his team to nine clean sheets in those matches, only picking up a single yellow card. He was called up to the France u18 squad in September, then the u19s in November, before making his u20 debut in March, still 17 years old.

According to reports, Saliba is joining for a fee of €25m plus €4m in add-ons, but this will be paid in multiple instalments, so it won’t have a large impact on the summer budget. Saliba had his medical with Arsenal on Tuesday.

Based on his performances in Ligue 1 so far, Arsenal have secured one of the top defensive talents around at the moment. Whilst it’s a shame not to have him in the defence immediately, another year with St. Etienne will be the best thing for his long-term development.