A number of reports across the European media tonight confirm that Arsenal have finally clinched an agreement for Saint-Etienne starlet William Saliba.
Saliba, an 18-year-old centre-half, broke into the first-team ranks at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard for the first time this past season.
The imposing stopper, who stands at 6ft 4in tall, went on to make 19 appearances across all competitions, impressing onlookers across Europe with his combination of stature and poise.
Saliba has also been capped by France at every level up to U19, with his performances at the heart of Saint-Etienne’s backline throughout the campaign having seen the teen establish himself as one of the most highly-regarded young players in Ligue 1.
Jose Mourinho, meanwhile, recently had the following to say about Saliba:
‘I think he has everything needed to become a good player, much like Kurt Zouma, who I signed.’
As such, the potential showcased by the stopper to this point in his fledgling career unsurprisingly saw Saliba added to the respective wishlists of a number of clubs around Europe.
A report from Charles Watts of Goal.com in May revealed that two of the outfits interested in the Saint-Etienne starlet were Premier League giants Arsenal and Manchester United.
Unai Emery’s Gunners, though, had long been said to be particularly keen.
In fact, Saliba was reportedly identified as the north Londoners’ ‘top’ transfer target this summer.
As mentioned by @Kike_Marin_, Arsenal see teenage French centre-back William Saliba as a top target this summer – They’ve watched him several times this season, including last night.
Full story. https://t.co/R7IBYBN8AI
— Charles Watts (@charles_watts) May 19, 2019
Reports emanating from France early last month confirmed that Arsenal were making serious inroads in their pursuit of the stopper, with the personal terms of a contract said to have been agreed between the parties.
And, despite a scare courtesy of north London rivals Tottenham last week, the Gunners had nevertheless long-been viewed as clear front-runners to eventually secure a deal for Saliba.
As such, reports quickly spreading across the European media tonight that Arsenal have finally sealed a deal for the stopper have come as little surprise.
In news that was first announced by Mohamed Bouhafsi of RMC Sport, and has since been backed by the reliable Fabrizio Romano, the capital giants and Saint-Etienne have reached a full agreement over Saliba’s transfer.
Arsenal will fork over 29 million Euro, including bonuses, to the Ligue 1 outfit.
Saliba is expected to put pen-to-paper on a 5-year deal at the Emirates, with the Frenchman’s will having proven crucial in negotiations.
The deal will then finally be made official next Tuesday:
🚨 #Saliba à #Arsenal c’est bouclé ! Arsenal et Saint Étienne ont trouvé un accord avoisinant 29M€ bonus compris. Mardi, Saliba va s’engager 5 ans avec les gunners. La volonté de Saliba de rejoindre Arsenal a influencé les négos. Il sera prêté dans la foulée à #ASSE ! #RMCsport
— Mohamed Bouhafsi (@mohamedbouhafsi) July 18, 2019
William Saliba to Arsenal, here we go! It’s the final decision by the player, he’s going to sign for 5 years. Just confirmed by Arsenal, always been confident about this deal ⚪️🔴 #AFC #Arsenal #transfers
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) July 18, 2019
As expected, Saliba will spend next season back on loan at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard.