Saint-Etienne have issued a scathing statement slamming Arsenal for their U-turn over on-loan defender William Saliba which means he will be unable to play in the French Cup final.
Arsenal bought the 19-year-old centre back from Saint-Etienne last summer before loaning him back for the season, and he is set to join back up with Mikel Arteta’s side in the coming weeks.
Although the French league season was cancelled due to coronavirus, Saint-Etienne still have one final match against PSG in the French Cup final – a game which would have been Saliba’s last after four years at the club.
William Saliba was bought by Arsenal last year but has spent season back with Saint-Etienne
The 19-year-old cost £27m and will now head back to north London to train with Arsena
But it seems Arsenal have stamped out any chance of allowing him to play one last game after the two clubs were unable to agree a deal that allows him to stay beyond the end of his current deal, which has now expired.
In a damning statement on their website, titled ‘William Saliba deprived of the final by Arsenal’, Saint-Etienne explained their side of the story.
‘AS Saint-Etienne was pleased to learn yesterday (Tuesday) that Mikel Arteta, Arsenal coach, was ready to leave William Saliba at the disposal of the club until the final of the Coupe de France, on July 24,’ it explains.
‘William Saliba had been training for several days with Claude Puel’s group and was obviously very enthusiastic about the idea of finishing his course in Green with such a match.
Arsenal have failed to reach an agreement with Saint-Etienne to allow him to play in cup final
Saint-Etienne manager Claude Puel will be without one of his biggest talents for season finale
‘Alas, ASSE, which simply wanted the extension of the initial loan until July 24, could not find an agreement in the evening with Arsenal to allow the defender to properly prepare and play this meeting, the English club imposing absolutely unacceptable sports and financial conditions.’
It now appears Saliba will have to travel back to north London without playing a part in the season finale at Saint-Etienne in the latter stages of July.
The Frenchman cost Arsenal £27million last summer, and he played 15 times on loan at Saint-Etienne this season before coronavirus curtailed the campaign.
Mikel Arteta had previously stated that he was happy for Saliba to play in the French Cup final
Arteta was asked last week about Saliba playing in the French Cup, and it appeared he had no problem with the youngster lining up against PSG.
‘He has earned his right to play that final if their manager wants to do that,’ the Spaniard said.
‘So I think we have to give him the opportunity to do that, to enjoy that and we can have him after that.’