Willian saliba was signed by the former coach Unai Emery. After three years of frustration, three loan spells and suffering the ignominy of losing his squad number to Ben White, the 21-year-old has belatedly cemented his place as an automatic starter in Mikel Arteta’s first choice XI.
Now firmly established as a senior France international, Saliba’s value is only likely to rise if, as expected, he plays a prominent role in Les Bleus’ upcoming World Cup campaign.
Saliba has 18 months to run on his current deal but Arsenal are keen to avoid a scenario whereby he enters the final year of that contract and puts himself in a position whereby a lucrative free transfer becomes an increasingly likely outcome.
The former Saint-Etienne youngster’s agent Djibril Niang raised speculation earlier this summer that his client was set to sign a new deal when he posted a picture of his visit to the club’s training ground on Instagram, but talks haven’t progressed since then.
According to The Athletic’s David Ornstein, speaking to FIVE Insider, Saliba is now in no hurry to put pen to paper on fresh terms, aware that ‘all the cards are now in his hands’ following a stellar start to the new season.
From Arsenal’s perspective, they are keen to get back to the negotiating table but such has been Saliba’s rapid rise to prominence that it has caught club chiefs a little off guard.
William Saliba featured for France in their recent Nations League matches
William Saliba featured for France in their recent Nations League matches (Picture: Getty)
The club’s priority has been to resolve Bukayo Saka’s contractual situation while talks are also planned with Gabriel Martinelli’s representatives which may cause a further delay in talks with Saliba.
Earlier this week, Arsenal legend Nigel Winterburn outlined his concern that Saliba’s contract saga was dragging on.
He told FreeSuperTips: ‘It looked like he was going to leave in the summer, but he’s been very impressive since he came into the team. He can read the game very well, he’s quick and looks like a good defender, so I think it’s important that Arsenal do not let that contract get into next season.
‘If they do, then they’ll end up putting themselves in a whole lot of trouble. I don’t think it’s difficult because you ask the player if he wants to stay, if they do then you sort out the contract.
‘For me I don’t understand why these things can be so complicated now. If you’re enjoying your football and enjoy where you are, then sort the contract out and get it done as quickly as possible.
Can he extend his stay in the league leaders?