William Saliba has promised his adoring Saint-Etienne fans that his ‘heart will always be green’ as he prepares to finally embark on his Arsenal career.
The teenage centre-half signed for the Gunners last season but was loaned back to his boyhood club for the entirety of the 2019/20 campaign.
Saliba had hoped to make one final appearance for Les Vert’s in next weekend’s French Cup final against Paris Saint-Germain but a compromise between the two clubs could not be reached.
Saint-Etienne claimed Arsenal had been guilty of ‘imposing absolutely unacceptable sports and financial conditions’ but the Gunners responded with a strongly worded statement of their own, claiming the Ligue 1 club had been unwilling to let Saliba follow a specially designed fitness programme.
Either way, Saliba is understood to have been left hugely frustated with a decision which has prevented him from competing in what would have been the biggest match of his fledgling career.
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Il est temps pour moi de vous dire au revoir avec beaucoup d’émotion et de tristesse, et surtout vous remercier, vous les verts, pour toutes ces merveilleuses années que j’ai passées depuis mon arrivé au centre de formation jusqu’au monde professionnel. Je tiens à remercier tous les entraineurs que j’ai pu avoir, qui m’ont fait progresser et grandir en tant que joueur et en tant qu'homme. Je tiens aussi à remercier tout le personnel du club qui œuvre au quotidien à notre bien-être. Et bien évidemment je remercie du fond du cœur tous les merveilleux supporters qui ont toujours cru en moi. Enfin, je remercie tous mes coéquipiers avec qui j’ai pu apprendre et partager de merveilleux moment. Ce magnifique chaudron que je ne suis pas prêt d’oublier, va me manquer. Saint-Étienne est ma ville et j’aurai toujours le Coeur vert 💚@asseofficiel
Bidding farewell to the club at which he has earned a reputation as one of the most highly-rated young defenders in European football, he wrote: ‘It is time for me to say goodbye to you with great emotion and sadness, and above all to thank you, the Greens, for all these wonderful years that I spent from my arrival at the training center to the professional world.
‘I want to thank all the coaches that I have had, who have made me progress and grow as a player and as a man. I would also like to thank all the club staff who work for our well-being on a daily basis.
‘And of course I thank from the bottom of my heart all the wonderful supporters who have always believed in me.
‘Finally, I would like to thank all my teammates with whom I was able to learn and share wonderful moments. I’m going to miss this beautiful cauldron that I’m not about to forget. Saint-Etienne is my city and I will always have a Green Heart.’
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