Mikel Arteta must decide whether to sell William Saliba as Arsenal will not allow defender to go on loan next season

MIKEL ARTETA must decide whether William Saliba can become an Arsenal regular or cash in on the French international defender this summer.

Three years after joining in a £27million move from Saint-Etienne, Saliba has yet to make a single appearance for the club.

William Saliba has gained experience against the likes of Kylian MbappeCredit: AFP

The defender earned his first France caps last month

The defender earned his first France caps last monthCredit: Rex

And with only two years remaining on his Emirates contract, he will not be allowed to spend yet another season out on loan and jeopardise his resale value.

Marseille coach Jorge Sampaoli is eager to keep the 21-year-old centre-half who has been a revelation at the Stade Velodrome this season, helping the team to second place in the French League and into the semi-finals of the Uefa Conference League.

And after making his debut for the senior French national team last month, Saliba is more than ready to stay at Marseille on a permanent basis.

Yet Arsenal boss Arteta remains uncertain about the player’s ability to handle the demands of the Premier League as well as his character.

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And he does not want Saliba back at the Emirates next season if he is going to be a disruptive element.

Only this week the player warned: “I definitely can’t settle for being on the bench at Arsenal and being happy with it. I want to be a starter.

“I make no secret of the fact that I am very happy at Marseille and there is always a chance that I will stay here. 

“I am playing a lot of matches and thanks to my performances I have become a full international.

“Arsenal are often in contact with my agent. They send me messages and they watch my matches.

“They tell me that I have to continue like this but today I don’t know what my future is and we will see what happens in discussions at the end of the season.”

Arteta has been closely monitoring Saliba’s performances and is well aware of his rapid progress during three seasons out on loan at Saint-Etienne, Nice and Marseille.

But he is reluctant to break up his central defensive pairing of Ben White and Gabriel Magalhaes to accommodate Saliba’s return next season.

And he does not want the young Frenchman sniping from the sidelines if he is not getting the regular starting role he wants.

So the temptation could be to cash in on a player to help fund the massive squad overhaul which Arsenal are planning for this summer.

Marseille are willing to repay Arsenal’s £27million outlay but the Gunners believe they can get at least £35million if they do decide to listen to offers.

Mikel Arteta has a big decision to make this summer

Mikel Arteta has a big decision to make this summerCredit: Rex

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