William Saliba would happily return to Olympique de Marseille next season, according to reports and quotes from the player this week.
Earlier this week, RMC Sport (via GFFN) reported that William Saliba had told the Marseille management team that he wants to stay with the club.
Jorge Sampaoli also indicated to the club hierarchy that keeping hold of the player should be a priority.
Marseille don’t have an option to buy in Saliba’s loan, but club president Pablo Longoria is working to find a solution – potentially another loan with an option to buy.
Following those reports, Marseille secured a place in next season’s Champions League as Monaco dropped points on the final day of the Ligue 1 season.
Saliba was absent for Marseille’s match through suspension, but he spoke to the media after the game.
“If I come back it would be with great pleasure,” Saliba said. “As a footballer, we all want to play Champions League. Especially as I’ve never played it before.
“Especially in a stadium like this one, one that hasn’t seen UCL in a long time. I’d like to play here on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.”
This is obviously not good news for Arsenal, who will want Saliba to return and play for them next season.
The centre-back won the Ligue 1 Young Player of the Year award last weekend, and the Gunners won’t want to let him slip through their grasp, particularly not for any less than his market value.
The other side of the situation is that it’s not actually up to Saliba and Marseille whether or not he makes that transfer. He’s still under contract at Arsenal for two years, so the Gunners could simply refuse to let him leave.
You get the feeling that may well be how it turns out. There’s little to no upside to selling to Marseille, who have paid throwaway fees for Arsenal players in the past.
Another loan does nothing to help Mikel Arteta’s squad when he needs to bolster his squad ahead of the return of European football – likely the Europa League.
It’s just never a good thing to have to convince players to stay. You want them to want to be around, and it looks like Arteta has his work cut out to make that happen.