Marseille are reportedly prepared to begin negotiations with Arsenal regarding a permanent move for defender William Saliba.

According to journalist Ekrem Konur, Marseille are ready to step up their pursuit of William Saliba. The highly-rated defender joined OM on a season-long loan deal in the summer, but it appears the French giants are keen on securing a permanent deal. They are soon expected to begin talks with Arsenal, who don’t have the best of relationships with the player.

A product of the Saint-Etienne youth academy, Saliba had initially joined Arsenal back in 2019. However, the defender was immediately sent back to ASSE on a season-long loan deal as part of the initial agreement.

The youngster eventually joined the Arsenal camp in the summer of 2020. By then, the Gunners had replaced Unai Emery, who was the one to sign the French defender in the first place, replacing him with Mikel Arteta.

Arteta had a different view of Saliba, questioning his attitude in training. The defender himself had struggled with fitness problems during the early parts of the 2020/21 campaign, leading to his complete exclusion from Arsenal’s Premier League squad last season.

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The Frenchman failed to even make a single competitive appearance for Arsenal before being shipped out to OGC Nice on a short-term loan deal. While he did return to the Emirates in the summer, Arteta was quick to snub him once again, in favour of his new signings, including Ben White and Takehiro Tomiyasu. It paved the way for the youngster’s loan move to Marseille, which would become a turning point of his career.

Saliba has indeed flourished at OM this season, under the leadership of Jorge Sampaoli. Alongside Luan Peres and Duje Caleta-Car, he has formed a solid defensive partnership that has helped his team remain in the top four race in Ligue 1 this season.

Many football pundits have criticised Arsenal’s foul treatment of William Saliba. Former Arsenal midfielder Samir Nasri has been among the critics, although the Frenchman did suggest that the player is good enough to return to the Emirates and make a name for himself in the Premier League.

Unfortunately for Arsenal, Saliba’s sparring relationship with the club may give Marseille a major advantage as the French giants look to permanently secure his services in the upcoming January transfer window. It remains to be seen how much Arsenal demand for the French defender, but he is unlikely to cost more than the €30 million the Gunners spent on him two and a half years ago.

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