The French side had hoped to extend the central defender’s loan agreement for their clash with PSG, however, manager Claude Puel said this would not happen.
Saliba played 17 games for the club in the 2019-20 season due to injury concerns, until Ligue 1 was abandoned in April following the coronavirus pandemic.
Despite the early termination of the French league, it has been confirmed that the finals of the Coupe de France and the Coupe de la Ligue will take place on July 24 and 31 respectively.
However, Saliba’s loan contract expired in the meantime on June 30, which means that Saint-Etienne had to try to negotiate with Arsenal to allow the young defender to play in the decisive match. These discussions failed, and the player returned to London after apparently playing his last game for The Greens.
“Yes, William Saliba will be absent,” confirmed the Saint-Etienne Puel coach, when asked if there was a chance for the young defender to represent his childhood club in the final.
Saint-Etienne had previously criticized Arsenal for “having imposed absolutely unacceptable sporting and financial conditions” after failing to obtain a loan extension for Saliba.
A press release from the club said: “William Saliba has been training for several days with Claude Puel’s group and was obviously very enthusiastic about the idea of ending his time in green with such a match.
“Alas, ASSE, which simply wanted the extension of the initial loan until July 24, could not find an agreement in the evening with Arsenal to allow the defender to properly prepare and play this match, the English club imposing absolutely unacceptable sports and financial conditions ”. ”
Arsenal replied in kind, explaining that the conditions set for a loan extension have not been accepted by the French side and that the well-being of their player is essential.
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Their statement reads as follows: “Throughout our discussions with Saint-Etienne, our objective has been to protect the well-being of William Saliba as well as the interests of Arsenal Football Club, while respecting the conditions of the loan.
“Despite the loan ending on June 30, we were ready to find a way for William to play in the [French] Cup final on July 24, despite no contractual obligation to do so.
“While William is coming back from an injury, we asked Saint-Etienne to follow a clear training plan with William in close collaboration with us, to ensure that he is in good shape for the start of the next season.
“To our surprise, we were unable to reach an agreement on this plan which was proposed by our medical experts, and we are simply not ready to risk the well-being of an Arsenal player.
“Although this is not our main concern, and ultimately irrelevant because our training plan was not accepted, we also expected not to be financially disadvantaged by extending the loan. It was also not acceptable for Saint-Etienne.
“We know it’s a disappointment for William but he understands that we are working to protect his long term interests and those of Arsenal. “