The defender will not be able to take part in Saint-Etienne’s clash with Paris Saint-German, much to his frustration
William Saliba says that he has “a crush” on Arsenal as the defender now looks ahead to officially joining up with the Gunners after completing his loan spell with Saint-Etienne.
Saliba signed with Arsenal in July 2019 as the Gunners completed a £25 million ($32m) deal to acquire the French teenager from Saint-Etienne
As part of that deal, the defender would be loaned back to the Ligue 1 side for the 2019-20 campaign, as he went on to make 12 appearances in Ligue 1 this season.
Now, with the Ligue 1 season over, Saliba can look ahead towards his dream move to London for the 2020-21 campaign.
Reflecting on his loan spell, Saliba says that he is glad that he was able to spend one more season with Saint-Etienne, allowing him to mentally and physically prepare for what will be a massive leap to a club like Arsenal after overcoming injury issues with the French side.
“I fell for Arsenal from the start,” he told L’Equipe. “A number of French players have been there.
“Arsenal has not been at the top of its game for the last three, four years. But, like Saint-Etienne, its badge, its history and its fans made me want it.
“I have a crush on Arsenal. What it gives off speaks to me. I had no hesitation. I am discovering another world.”
He added: “After a good first season with 19 matches (with Saint-Etienne), I need to confirm my potential. I was not yet ready to go to Arsenal. But I was unlucky, because I endured a year of injuries.
“It was truly difficult, when I was not able to play in very important matches, notably in the Europa League. At least, it forged me mentally and showed what I could face in the future.”
Manager Claude Puel recently revealed that Saliba would miss the upcoming Coupe de France final, as the defender has played his last game for the club.
However, Saliba will be in attendance on Friday as Saint-Etienne takes on Paris Saint-Germain in the finale, giving him one last bit of closure despite his unhappiness at not being able to play one last time.
“I couldn’t miss this. As I am not able to play, I want to at least feel this final as much as possible, by supporting my team in the stadium,” he said.
“In front of the TV, it would not be the same. It was important for me to be there, hoping to see Les Verts win. It will also allow me to say goodbye to my team-mates properly. Because I left like I was a robber.
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“It would have been my first final, my second year as a professional. Of course, I hope to play other finals, but you are never sure of anything.
“On top of that, it would have been my last match with the club that formed me. I hoped, hoped. Truly. Even when it became impossible.
“The two clubs did everything for me to play. But they did not reach an agreement. I was very disappointed.”