According to Goal, highly-rated defender William Saliba is set to travel to London to finalise his move to Arsenal after we agreed a deal worth £26.5m with Saint-Etienne.
Saliba has been strongly linked with a move to Arsenal all summer after Unai Emery identified the French Under-21 international as a prime transfer target but negotiations have dragged on for several weeks.
However, it looks like we’ve finally found a breakthrough as Goal are one of several media outlets who’re reporting today that Arsenal have agreed a deal with Saint-Etienne worth £26.5m.
The major sticking point was Saint-Etienne’s insistence that Saliba was loaned back to them as part of any deal but Arsenal have caved with Goal claiming we’ve agreed to let the youngster develop for another year in France before he links up with his new team-mates next summer.
The report says Saliba is now expected to travel to London to put the finishing touches on the move and sign a long-term contract with Le10Sport reporting recently that personal terms have already been agreed with the player.
Arsenal have fought off competition from the likes of Tottenham and Wolves to snap-up Saliba and although we would ideally have been able to use him next season, loaning him for a year will be a small price to pay if it swung the deal in our favour.
Emery needs to improve our defence now and it would be a lot to ask of an 18-year-old to be our savior so it will do him good to spend another season learning his trade in Ligue 1 before linking up with Arsenal next year.
Saliba enjoyed a breakthrough campaign last season after making 17 appearances for Saint-Etienne in all competitions and his potential caught the attention of Arsenal scouts. He’s now set to become our second signing of the summer after we snapped-up Gabriel Martinelli but Emery still has a lot of work to do if we’re to be competitive next season.
The good news is Arsenal won’t commit much money up front for the Saliba deal so his signing shouldn’t impact the bosses budget too much and Emery should still have funds available to go after a left-back, midfielder and winger.