David Ornstein confirmed reports of William Saliba undergoing testing with Arsenal this week, before discussing the chances of an early return from loan.

Saint-Etienne's French defender William Saliba gestures during the French L1 football match between Bordeaux and Saint-Etienne (ASSE) on October 20, 2019, at the Matmut Atlantique stadium in Bordeaux, southwestern France. (Photo by NICOLAS TUCAT / AFP / Getty Images)
Saint-Etienne’s French defender William Saliba gestures during the French L1 football match between Bordeaux and Saint-Etienne (ASSE) on October 20, 2019, at the Matmut Atlantique stadium in Bordeaux, southwestern France. (Photo by NICOLAS TUCAT / AFP / Getty Images)

As we reported on Sunday, William Saliba spent time back at Arsenal in the last week. The Athletic’s David Ornstein confirmed the news on The Ornstein and Chapman Podcast this week.

As far as we know, the testing was simply to evaluate Saliba’s readiness to return to match action with Saint-Etienne. However, Arsenal fans are obviously eager to know if there’s any chance the defender might return from loan early.

Ornstein explained that he doesn’t think it’s particularly likely, even if Arsenal are keen.

“Some have suggested to me that Arsenal would like to keep him at the club for the remainder of the season,” Ornstein said. “So that he’s ready to go for the new campaign in perfect shape.

“Any hope of Arsenal getting him available to play this season is, we think, unlikely. They would have to probably strike a deal to actually effectively sign him and break the one-year loan.”

Unlike in the cases of Eddie Nketiah and Dejan Iliev, Arsenal didn’t have a recall clause for Saliba. The player and his club were both keen for him to spend another full season in France. Bringing him back now would work in roughly the same way as any normal signing.

Ultimately, the Arsenal hierarchy are likely to judge that Saliba has more chance of getting fit and playing regularly for the remainder of the season with his current club. That isn’t how it’s working out so far, but he may well play even less often with Arsenal right now.

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Arsenal fan since a young age, now a season ticket holder who enjoys writing, tweeting and making videos about the Gunners.