William Saliba has been given fresh hope of competing in the Coupe de France final later this month after Arsenal reportedly restarted talks with Saint-Etienne to allow him to face Paris Saint-Germain.
The 19-year-old completed a £27million move to the Emirates last summer but was immediately loaned back to Saint-Etienne for the 2019/20 campaign.
Though the impact of the coronavirus crisis on French football meant the Ligue 1 season came to an end back in April, Saint-Etienne still have their French Cup final clash with PSG to play on July 24.
Saliba’s temporary agreement expired at the end of last month and Saint-Etienne have been desperate for Arsenal to grant them permission to field the defender for one more game.
However, Saint-Etienne and Arsenal announced that discussions had been unsuccessful last week, with the French club criticising the Gunners for their ‘unacceptable sports and financial conditions’.
And while Arsenal signalled that they would not back down on their decision – which reportedly ‘angered’ the young centre-back – it appears they have made a drastic U-turn in their negotiations.
According to L’Equipe, the latest meetings have been positive and discussions have reached an ‘advanced’ stage in recent hours.
The teenager is now expected to return to Saint-Etienne before the end of this week when the French transfer window experiences its first closure of the summer.
Throughout the talks, Arsenal have refused to agree to the payment of a €2.5m bonus which they would owe Saint-Etienne if the France Under-20 international played versus PSG.
And the north London giants have been asking for these demands to be dropped so that Saliba can end his Saint-Etienne career on a high.
The Coupe de France final represents a major opportunity for Saint-Etienne considering victory would secure them qualification for next year’s Europa League.
At the end of last month, Mikel Arteta revealed his stance on the saga surrounding Saliba’s participation in the cup final, declaring that the centre-half had ‘earned the right’ to face PSG.
‘I think he needs to stay there,’ the Arsenal head coach said.
‘We’ve got an agreement with Saint-Etienne and he’s earned his right to play that final.’
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