L’Équipe report today that Premier League side Arsenal’s insistence that William Saliba return to London for a period of 10 days this month to undergo a series of physical tests was the root of their failure to find an agreement with St Étienne to allow the teenager to play in the Coupe de France final on 24th July.
St Étienne tried to work with the Gunners on these demands, notably offering that the player undergo said physical tests in Paris for a reduced amount of time as somewhat of a compromise, but Arsenal flat out rejected this.
ASSE feel that a 10 day period entirely away from their 1st team preparations is too long in the context of preparing for a cup final.
On the financial side, Arsenal know that if Saliba starts a 17th game in all competitions this season, then they will owe St Étienne an additional €2.5m in bonuses as a condition of the summer transfer agreement from last year. The Gunners clearly don’t want to pay this and have frankly made the entire year-long loan process from start to finish really uncomfortable for Les Verts, insisting upon having a heavy control over Saliba’s training and rehabilitation throughout the 2019/20 campaign.
William Saliba really wants his final game for St Étienne to occur in the Stade de France, after having missed the opportunity to play the Coupe Gambardella in the same stadium because he had already been called up to the 1st team last year.
As a result, we might not have seen the final chapter of this saga written – the French newspaper suggests that the teenager’s frustration will bring about a return to negotiations between Arsenal and St Étienne to get something done. The player for example could return to ASSE on a 1-month long loan when the European summer transfer window opens on 9th July.