Arsenal have failed to reach an agreement with Saint-Etienne over the extension of William Saliba’s loan in France, meaning the teenager will not be able to play in the French Cup final later this month.
Saliba has been loaned back to Saint-Etienne this season after completing a £25 million move to Arsenal last summer. His loan expired on June 30 but the player and Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta were hopeful it would be extended to allow him to feature in one final match.
Arsenal have said talks over an extension broke down primarily because the French side would not agree to collaborate over a training plan for Saliba, who has struggled with injuries this season.
There was also a financial aspect to the decision. It is understood that, under the terms of the original loan, Arsenal would have had to make a further payment to the French side if Saliba featured in another game.
There are high expectations for the 19-year-old when he arrives in north London. Indeed, one of the reasons Arsenal gave David Luiz a new contract was because the Brazilian is seen as a leader who can help Saliba adjust to the demands of English football.
“Despite the loan ending on June 30, we were willing to find a way for William to play in the French Cup final on July 24, despite having no contractual obligation to do so,” Arsenal said in a statement.
"As William is returning from injury, we asked that St Etienne follow a clear training plan with William in close collaboration with us, to ensure he is fully fit for the start of next season.
"To our surprise we were unable to reach agreement to this plan which was proposed by our medical experts, and we are simply not prepared to risk the welfare of an Arsenal player.
"While it was not our primary concern, and ultimately not relevant as our training plan was not accepted, we also expected not to be financially disadvantaged by extending the loan. This was also not acceptable to St Etienne.
"We know this is a disappointment for William but he understands we are working to protect his long-term interests and those of Arsenal.”