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Arsenal FC manager Mikel Arteta has ‘no doubts’ Saliba wants to stay at Arsenal

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Iquiel Arteta has no doubts that William Saliba wants to stay at Arsenal after fearing the defender’s relationship with the club was damaged due to his turbulent start there.

Saliba joined Arsenal from Saint-Etienne in 2019 for £27m, but has only joined the first team this season. Arsenal want to tie Saliba to a new contract, as he has been in great shape and has entered the final two years of his deal, although there is an option to extend it by 12 months.

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Arteta is confident contract talks will go well, but has revealed that he initially feared Saliba’s relationship with Arsenal had been damaged due to his start at the club.

After joining the Gunners, Saliba was loaned directly to Saint-Étienne. The 21-year-old, who will likely be one of the many players resting tonight when they face Arsenal Bodou/Glimt in the Europa League, returned to the club in 2020 and was supposed to move straight into the first-team squad.

Instead, Arsenal then attempted to loan him to Saint-Etienne, but the deal cannot be completed before the transfer window closes. The centre-back spent six months playing for Arsenal’s Under-23 team before joining Nice on loan in January 2021. Saliba was loaned again last season, to Marseille, and despite spending three years away, Arteta is convinced that the defender France feels at home. At the Emirates Stadium where the club opens contract talks with him.

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“I was really surprised when I spoke to him,” Arteta said. “The way the relationship started, [I wondered] If there is damage, because he has certain expectations. But he was very committed to playing for Arsenal. If you look at the way he talks about the club and how much he wants to be here, I have no doubts that he wants to continue to stay here.”

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Arsenal also want to tie Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli to new contracts, like Saliba, whose deals expire in 2024. The Gunners have the option to extend the Saka deal for another 12 months and Martinelli’s deals for another two years. This eases the pressure of time on Arsenal, but Arteta has spoken of the importance of “rewarding” players who have done well – and Martinelli and Saka certainly fall into that category.

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“Obviously, we have to plan ahead and we’re all working on it,” he said. “Edu is on top of it and on the whole board and we will try to do things the right way, be fair, try to plan in the best possible way and reward the players who in our opinion have a great future for the club. When we have something to announce, we will do it.”

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