William Saliba will return to Arsenal this summer to fight for a place in Mikel Arteta’s squad despite Marseille’s interest in keeping the 21-year-old.

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French defender Jonathan Clauss (L) and French defender William Saliba (R) pose prior to the friendly football match between France and South Africa at Pierre-Mauroy stadium in Villeneuve-d’Ascq, near Lille, northern France, on March 29, 2022. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / POOL / AFP) (Photo by FRANCK FIFE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

With William Saliba impressing in France, many feared Arsenal would sell the youngster this summer without ever really giving him a proper chance.

But, according to a report from France based on one from London, Marseille are now aware that William Saliba will return to Arsenal to try and nail down a first-team slot.

Widely regarded as one of the best young centrebacks on the planet, it would be totally crazy to sell him and, hopefully, the club do actually follow through with their plans and allow him to show what he’s got, three years after he was first signed.

Saliba is currently ranked as the second most expensive player at Marseille, despite his value being around £6m lower than what Arsenal paid for him in 2019.

William Saliba: They’re in contact with my agent

William Saliba admits he wouldn’t be happy on the bench at Arsenal, but he would accept a rotation role over his previous lack of first-team opportunities as he says Arsenal stay in contact with his agent.

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)

Speaking to L’Equipe (via GFFN), William Saliba responded to a question about whether he could return to Arsenal as a substitute.

“I definitely can’t settle for being on the bench at Arsenal and being happy [with it],” Saliba said. “I want to be a starter. But then if I do get into the rotation as a substitute, it wouldn’t be like staying with the U23 and never being in the team.”

As for his current relationship with his parent club, Saliba confirmed he’s in regular contact with the Gunners through his agent.

“They’re in contact with my agent [Djibril Niang],” Saliba continued. “They send me messages. They watch my games. They tell me I need to carry on like this.

“I haven’t played a lot with the Gunners. The manager [Mikel Arteta] made his choice, that’s life. I left on loan, I’m playing a lot of matches, and thanks to my performances, I’ve become a full international.”

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)

The Athletic report that if William Saliba decides to move on from Arsenal this summer, he’d have other options than just Marseille, with clubs in France, Spain, and England after him.

Saliba recently confirmed that whilst he’s focusing on Marseille’s targets in the Champions League qualification race and the Europa Conference League knockouts, for now, talks with Arsenal and Marseille will come after that.

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.

Charles Watts then weighed in on the issue, reporting for Goal that talks over Saliba’s future are set to open in the coming weeks.

Football.London previously reported that they understand Saliba would prefer to prove himself with Arsenal than join Marseille on a permanent deal this summer.

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