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Arsenal set to complete £22m first summer signing after accepting transfer clause

Arsenal target William Saliba and Unai Emery

Arsenal are set to sign William Saliba from Saint-Etienne for £22m (Pic: GETTY)

Saint-Etienne central defender William Saliba is on the brink of completing a move to the Emirates Stadium for £22m (€25m), according to ESPN.

The two clubs are reportedly close to finalising a transfer agreement for the 18-year-old.

Saint-Etienne want Saliba back on loan for the upcoming season as part of any arrangement.

Arsenal were reluctant to spend a large chunk of their £45m transfer budget on a player they would not be able to use straight away.

But ESPN claim the Gunners will allow Saliba to spend next term with Saint-Etienne.

Arsenal will beat a host of rivals including Tottenham and Paris Saint-Germain to his signature.

Saliba made 19 appearances for Saint-Etienne in all competitions last season after breaking into the first team.

The France Under-20 international has been tipped for the top thanks to his combination of strength and skill on the ball.

Saliba has already agreed personal terms on a move to north London so the transfer should progress to the medical stage once a fee is fully agreed.

Arsenal are set to reshape their defence after problems at the back hindered their maiden campaign under Unai Emery’s management.

Celtic left-back Kieran Tierney is also being eyed to replace Nacho Monreal while a replacement for Laurent Koscielny at centre-back is required.

Former Arsenal star Charlie Nicholas, however, believes an entire revamp at the back is needed.

Arsenal target William Saliba

Arsenal are set to loan William Saliba back to Saint-Etienne (Pic: GETTY)

“We need a whole new defence, and I mean the back four,” Sky Sports pundit Nicholas said. “Probably if Bellerin is fit then that’s fine.

“We’ve got a couple of young players to come back, Rob Holding being one of them.

“But that will be squad-orientated, we probably need three main defenders to come in. That’s going to cost the best part of £60m or £70m.”

Arsenal are set to launch a fresh offer worth £18m for Tierney.

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