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Marseille 'still want permanent William Saliba deal'

Marseille 'still want permanent William Saliba deal'
© Reuters
Marseille are reportedly still trying to sign William Saliba from Arsenal on a permanent deal, despite the defender confirming that he wants to stay at the Emirates.

Marseille have reportedly not given up hope of signing William Saliba from Arsenal on a permanent basis.

The 21-year-old was one of Jorge Sampaoli's star performers in the 2021-22 season and won the Ligue 1 Young Player of the Year for his exploits in the heart of defence.

Saliba made 52 appearances in all competitions for Les Olympiens in the most recent campaign, including 36 starts in Ligue 1 to help Marseille finish second and qualify for the Champions League.

Marseille chiefs made no secret of their desire to sign Saliba from Arsenal permanently, but the France international instead signalled his intent to finally make a name for himself at Arsenal.

"I belong to Arsenal, I still have two years left. I will be back with Arsenal," Saliba told Telefoot. "I have played zero matches and I still want to show them my true face and have the chance to play for these fans and this great club."

William Saliba in action for Marseille in October 2021© Reuters

However, according to Foot Mercato, Sampaoli's side are still hopeful that a deal can be concluded for Saliba and have touched base with Arsenal to discuss a possible move.

Despite previous concerns that Marseille would be operating under a transfer ban this summer, the French giants have been given the green light to buy and sell as normal by the DNCG.

The report adds that Marseille are preparing a 'real financial effort' to strike a deal for Saliba, who could command as much as €40m (£34.4m) to leave Arsenal this summer.

The former Saint-Etienne youngster remains under contract with Arsenal until 2024, though, and Mikel Arteta is supposedly keen to reward him with a new deal following his rise at Marseille.

The Gunners boss previously told RMC Sport that Saliba "has to come back" to the Emirates, saying: "We made the right decision. He has to come back. William wanted to be a regular starter as you know but now we want him back at Arsenal.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta pictured on May 16, 2022© Reuters

"He has the experience and the environment necessary to be competitive with us. If he had stayed with us this year, with a match of Premier League a week, with Ben White and Gabriel, he wouldn't have had half the playing time he had with Marseille, that's for sure.

"For his growth and what he can do next season that wouldn't have been good. William wasn't with us because he wouldn't have had the playing time to gain experience. That's it, there's nothing else."

Saliba signed for Arsenal in a £27m deal from Saint-Etienne three years ago, but he has not made a single first-team appearance for the club and has only turned out eight times for the Under-23s.

The centre-back has been sent back to France with Saint-Etienne, Nice and Marseille since signing his Arsenal contract and will be pining for regular game time to boost his chances of a place in France's World Cup squad.

As well as Saliba, Marseille have signed Matteo Guendouzi and Sead Kolasinac from Arsenal in recent times, with the former now poised to make his stay permanent.

Les Olympiens are also understood to have approached the Gunners over a possible loan deal for left-back Nuno Tavares, who struggled for consistency during his debut campaign in North London.

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