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Arsenal have submitted an offer of €25m plus €5m in bonuses for St. Etienne defender William Saliba, according to reports in France.
Mohamed Bouhafsi of RMC originally broke the story that Arsenal had submitted their first offer for the St. Etienne centre-back, after agreeing personal terms with the player. Bouhafsi later confirmed to GFFN that the offer was €25m with €5m in bonuses.
A meeting between the two clubs reportedly took place at the end of last week, with a second meeting planned in the coming days. The biggest catch at the moment is that the Ligue 1 side want Saliba back on loan for the 2019/20 season.
Arsenal are in pole position to sign Saliba on a five-year deal, with talks going ‘positively’, though Tottenham Hotspur have also made contact in the last few days.
French football expert Julien Laurens has also since weighed in on the deal, claiming Saliba is ‘getting closer to Arsenal’ and that the deal ‘could be done soon’. However, he also confirmed that a loan back to France for a season is likely.
On the one hand, this would represent an excellent piece of business. Saliba is a talented, highly-rated centre-back, 18 years old with a big future ahead of him. For any other top club, signing the teenager for €25m and loaning him back would be a great deal.
On the other, Arsenal are in the unfortunate position of needing defensive upgrades right now. The club also have a restricted budget, so if they have to pay the €25m up front then that could cause problems.
Perhaps they could negotiate a payment plan that better reflects the actual situation, with a small fee being paid up front and the rest going to St. Etienne next summer when the player actually joins, so Arsenal could invest in another defender for the time being.