William Saliba says it was an honour to make his senior debut for France, though the crowd made it difficult to stay focused.

France's defender Raphael Varane (L) leaves the field to be replaced by France's defender William Saliba (C) during the friendly football match between France and Ivory Coast at the Velodrome Stadium in Marseille, southern France, on March 25, 2022. (Photo by NICOLAS TUCAT/AFP via Getty Images)
France’s defender Raphael Varane (L) leaves the field to be replaced by France’s defender William Saliba (C) during the friendly football match between France and Ivory Coast at the Velodrome Stadium in Marseille, southern France, on March 25, 2022. (Photo by NICOLAS TUCAT/AFP via Getty Images)

Arsenal loan centre-back William Saliba made his first senior appearance for the French national team this week, coming on as a substitute against the Ivory Coast.

The location of the debut was particularly coincidental, with France playing the friendly at Marseille’s home ground – where Saliba is on loan.

That meant Saliba got a particularly exuberant welcome from the fans, which he was somewhat distracted by but ultimately thankful for.

“It’s an honour for me to wear this shirt, especially at home,” Saliba said (via GFFN). “I had to stay concentrated because the crowd cheered a lot when I came on, but I thank them for giving me confidence.

“I’m going to keep this shirt and not wash it, that’s for sure!”

Marseille's French defender William Saliba (C) and teammates celebrate at the end of the French L1 football match between Bordeaux and Marseille on January 7, 2022. (Photo by ROMAIN PERROCHEAU/AFP via Getty Images)
Marseille’s French defender William Saliba (C) and teammates celebrate at the end of the French L1 football match between Bordeaux and Marseille on January 7, 2022. (Photo by ROMAIN PERROCHEAU/AFP via Getty Images)

There was already plenty of speculation surrounding Saliba’s Arsenal future after his positive season with Marseille, but that has only increased in the wake of his call-up to the senior French national team.

Speaking to RMC Sport in an interview published on Wednesday morning, Saliba says he’s feeling good with the Ligue 1 club.

Whilst he’s focusing on Marseille’s targets in the Champions League qualification race and the Europa Conference League knockouts for now, he confirms talks with Arsenal and the French side will take place after that.

“I’ve never hidden the fact that I feel good here. I don’t know what my future holds, there are still two months to go,” Saliba said (via GFFN).

“The most important thing is to qualify for the Champions League and go as far as possible in the Conference League.

“I think discussions will take place afterwards, at the end of May to early June, between Arsenal and Marseille – we’ll decide at that point.

“But staying on here would definitely not be a bad idea, on the contrary, I know the city, my teammates, my manager. But it doesn’t depend on me.”

Sam Dean reported on Monday morning that Arsenal were yet to open discussions with Saliba over his future at the club, but those talks were expected to take place soon.

As things stand, Dean suggests Arsenal haven’t given an indication over whether they’ll be offering Saliba a new deal, with his current contract to expire in 2024.

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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.