Reports: Arsenal set to make first summer signing as they agree deal with French star

According to football365, Arsenal have agreed a five-year deal with Saint Etienne over the transfer of William Saliba who will be loaned back to the French club for the 2019/2020 season. The Gunners beat off competition from Bundesliga side Borussia Monchengladbach for the services of the 18-year-old.

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The French defender attracted a host of top clubs following an impressive campaign at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard. He has been dubbed the new Raphael Varane making 16 appearances for Saint Etienne last season.

He made debut senior Saint-Étienne debut in a 3-2 win over Toulouse on 25 September 2018 and has gone on to make 14 more appearances in French football’s top flight. Saliba, who has previously been linked with both Manchester clubs, is valued at around £25million and what remains undecided is how Arsenal will structure a deal having confirmed the player’s interest through intermediaries.

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The Gunners have a summer budget of around £40m plus any money generated from player sales and while there has been a suggestion the club could sign Saliba and then loan him back, Emery is understandably keen on using their modest budget to make immediate improvements for next season.

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Born in Bondy, France, Saliba spent six years at AS Bondy before moving on to FC Montfermeil and then joining Saint-Etienne in the summer of 2016 initially as a youth player. Almost a year ago to the day he signed his first professional contract at the age of 17.

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He’s a France international across various youth levels having represented the U16’s, U17’s, U18’s and U19’s in his short career and is eligible to play for Cameroon.  The teenager’s first coach was the father of Paris Saint-Germain and France superstar Kylian Mbappe.

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“I took my first license at the age of 6 at AS Bondy, the city where I was born,” he said. “I was then in the beginner category. The first coach who counted for me is Wilfried Mbappé, Kylian’s father. He was direct, frank, he did not hesitate to push me.M”Even when I had a good match, he asked me more, he did not want me to rest on my laurels.”

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Former Real Madrid and Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho backed the teenager to become a top player, likening him to Chelsea’s Kurt Zouma in the process. “I think he has everything needed to become a good player, much like Kurt Zouma, who I signed,” the ‘special one’ said, as per the Metro.

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Meanwhile, former Arsenal defender Lauren has approved of a deal for Saliba. “Yes, he looks a very good player,” said Lauren, speaking exclusively to, as per the Metro. “Strong, tall, can come out of the back with the ball and an international for France. “He reads the game very well, which is important for a player at the back, you have to anticipate and he looks very good at just 18, so the future is bright!”