William Saliba won the UNFP Ligue 1 Young Player of the Year award on Sunday, as speculation continues around his future.

Marseille's French defender William Saliba (C) runs with the ball during the French L1 football match between Olympique Marseille (OM) and Lyon (OL) at the Stade Velodrome in Marseille, southern France, on May 1, 2022. (Photo by NICOLAS TUCAT/AFP via Getty Images)
Marseille’s French defender William Saliba (C) runs with the ball during the French L1 football match between Olympique Marseille (OM) and Lyon (OL) at the Stade Velodrome in Marseille, southern France, on May 1, 2022. (Photo by NICOLAS TUCAT/AFP via Getty Images)

On Sunday, Arsenal loanee William Saliba was awarded the Ligue 1 Young Player of the Year award by the UNFP, the main trade union for professional footballers in France.

The award was deserved recognition for a strong campaign from the 21-year-old, who made 51 appearances for Marseille before his campaign was brought to an early end by a yellow-card suspension.

Saliba’s impressive season also earned him a debut for the French national team, for whom he made two appearances in March.

The award once again raises the topic of Saliba’s future, with L’Equipe reporting (via Sport Witness) that the idea of returning to Marseille tempts the centre-back – as long as they can qualify for the Champions League.

Saliba will certainly initially return to Arsenal, so it will be up to Marseille to find a way to bring him back, with the Gunners currently holding all the cards.

La Provence recently reported that Arsenal are now planning for next season with Saliba in the team. They’re counting on his presence in their squad, and he’s still under contract for another couple of seasons.

Marseille's Spanish defender Pol Lirola (L) and Marseille's French defender William Saliba react during the French L1 football match between Olympique Marseille (OM) and Olympique Lyonnais at Stade Velodrome in Marseille, southern France, on May 1, 2022. (Photo by NICOLAS TUCAT/AFP via Getty Images)
Marseille’s Spanish defender Pol Lirola (L) and Marseille’s French defender William Saliba react during the French L1 football match between Olympique Marseille (OM) and Olympique Lyonnais at Stade Velodrome in Marseille, southern France, on May 1, 2022. (Photo by NICOLAS TUCAT/AFP via Getty Images)

Marseille would effectively be relying on Saliba to force a move, and they hope that it could help if Arsenal fail to qualify for the Champions League.

Marseille’s own Champions League hopes are in the balance, as they sit third in Ligue 1 and just three points clear of fourth.

Third place would at least get them into the Champions League qualifiers, but dropping to fourth would mean playing in the Europa League next season, and Marseille face fifth-place Strasbourg on the final day. Nothing is guaranteed yet.

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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.