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Saint-Etienne boss slams Arsenal over treatment of highly-rated defender

Claude Puel, Saint-Etienne, William Saliba
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Saint-Etienne boss Claude Puel is upset by Arsenal’s treatment of their young defender William Saliba.

Saliba, who signed for Arsenal last year in a €30m deal, spent the 2019/20 campaign on loan at old club Saint-Etienne. He started 11 of his 12 Ligue 1 appearances despite his metatarsal injury problems.

The 19-year-old then headed to the Emirates Stadium over the summer, intent on making his mark in Mikel Arteta’s squad. However, he’s yet to make his senior debut or even make the matchday squad in the Premier League.

An attempted deal to send him back on loan Saint-Etienne or to a Championship club fell through, leaving Saliba out in the cold. The last straw was his exclusion from Arsenal’s Europa League squad.

“It was short-term [thinking], even for a young player,” Puel told L’Equipe.

“A superb player like William, to whom I wish the best, has not even made it to Arsenal’s Europa League squad. Where is the logic, if not financial?

“He had a great desire to join us. The club are a bit like family and friends [to him]. His adaptation would have been instant.

“This would have happened if all the conditions had met. It had to remain consistent with our finances and his contract, particularly for the management.”

Arsenal will visit Manchester City on Saturday evening for their next Premier League match.