William Saliba is set to return Arsenal after the cancellation of the Ligue 1 season. Even if he is not allowed to play, the defender can still benefit from being with the club.
The football season is in ruins. No one quite knows if it will be finished. No one knows in what form its conclusion will take or how that will impact next season, the transfer window, European competitions or international matches. The sporting calendar has been put through a blender, the results of which are not yet known.
This week, the French football governing body announced that the league season would be cancelled with Paris Saint-Germain handed the title. It comes at the same time as German football pressed forward with plans for a mid-May restart, while the Premier League held a meeting discussing a June 8th return.
More from Pain in the Arsenal
No one quite knows how this will unfold and what impacts it will have, but for Arsenal, they might get the chance to welcome young William Saliba into the fold for the final few matches of the Premier League campaign.
Saliba is currently on loan at Saint-Etienne. But he was also named to Arsenal’s Premier League B squad after completing a £26 million transfer last summer. Saliba’s loan deal does not expire until June 30th and Football.London report that there is a ‘0% chance that he plays for Arsenal before July 1st’, but should the Premier League campaign extend beyond that date, which is almost certain, his inclusion is possible.
In reality, it is unlikely that Saliba will be allowed to play. FIFA have already said that they cannot extend contracts or loan deals beyond June 30th, but they will amend transfer windows to ensure these players cannot be signed. Therefore, it seems awkward if they then let a returnee loanee play for his parent club.
Nevertheless, even if Saliba is not allowed to play, there is nothing that stops him from training with the squad, gaining input and coaching from Mikel Arteta, and preparing himself for next season, at which point he is set to be one of the starting centre-halves despite his youthfulness.
Want your voice heard? Join the Pain In The Arsenal team!
Write for us!
Saliba only turned 19 in March. He is yet to play a game for Arsenal. He missed over half the season through injury and has a total of 36 senior appearances in his career. And yet, the Gunners are relying on him to be the anchor of their defence. Despite his obvious talent, and that he is likely already superior to the centre-backs already in the squad, it is a precarious situation.
Consequently, getting Saliba into the club as quickly as possible will only be beneficial for all involved. Arteta will get the chance to work with him, Saliba can help settle into London and life in England, an important aspect of moving to a new country and league, while he can develop in training with the other first-team players.
Of course, it would be ideal if Saliba can play the final matches of a resumed Premier League season. But even if he is not sanctioned to play, his return to the club can still be a huge benefit to both him and Arsenal.