Arsenal and Saint-Etienne seem to have been unable to reach an agreement over William Saliba despite all parties seemingly wanting the teenager to play in the French cup final.
The deadline to reach an agreement was midnight on Wednesday and, about 20 minutes before that, the Ligue 1 side seemingly tweeted.
Translated, it read, “The #ASSE regrets that no common ground was found with @Arsenal for William’s extended loan #Saliba. The club wishes him a good continuation for his career. We will not forget you Wilo.”
I hadn’t had my coffee before I saw that and wasn’t alone in thinking it was an official announcement.
Knowing Claude Puel said he could give us an update at 00.01, I checked their site.
There was no Saliba announcement.
Speaking to the media this week, Mikel Arteta explained that Arsenal and Saint-Etienne had been in talks over Saliba.
“The clubs are dealing with the situation,” Arteta said. “You know what happened in the last few days, I prefer to stay away from that. Hopefully, they find a good agreement on the situation in good terms that helps the player as well.”
There was no announcement on Arsenal’s site, either.
Negotiations initially broke down over disagreements on what Arsenal would owe for the loan extension as well as the training plan Saliba would use over the next month.
Normally, you’d expect the loan club to cover at least some of the financial costs of an extension. However, if Arsenal merely extended the loan on its original terms and Saliba started in the final, the Gunners would owe Saint-Etienne €2.5m due to a bonus clause in his contract.
Arsenal obviously wanted to remove that clause before agreeing to another loan (which they are under no obligation to do). They also wanted Saliba on a specific training regime after his injuries this season.
Saint-Etienne weren’t happy with either demand and no middle ground could be met, it seems.