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Arsenal seal £27m signing of William Saliba sending him straight back to Saint-Etienne on loan

Arsenal have officially signed Saint-Etienne centre-back William Saliba in a £27million deal.

It is the Gunners’ second signing of the day, after completing the loan move of Real Madrid midfielder Dani Ceballos earlier.

The imposing French defender, who put pen to paper on a five-year contract at the Emirates, will return immediately to the Ligue 1 outfit on a season-long loan. 

After putting pen to paper at the Emirates, Saliba said: ‘Well, first of all, it’s a massive pleasure to sign for a really, really big English club. 

‘This is the biggest club in England for me, so it was an easy decision. I didn’t think twice about signing here, so I’m really happy.’

Arsenal faced late competition from north London rivals Tottenham for Saliba’s signature but the Frenchman eventually opted for the Gunners.

When asked about why he wanted to join Arsenal, he replied: ‘Well, the history, the badge… since I was little, I’ve been watching Arsenal play in the Champions League and so on, and there are a lot of French players who have come through here. So that really helped me to make my mind up.

Manager Unai Emery added: ‘We’re delighted William is joining us. Many teams wanted him but he decided he wanted to come to us and be part of our future. 

‘He will stay in France next season for more experience and then we look forward to him joining our group.’ 

Saliba made 16 appearances during his debut campaign last season after breaking into Saint-Etienne’s first-team in late September.

Saliba is also a French youth international, having recently earned a call-up to his country’s Under 20s squad.

The 18-year-old is tipped for a bright future but needs more regular game time at the top level before slotting straight into the heart of Arsenal’s defence, so a season-long loan back to France suits both parties. 

The north London outfit’s decision to loan the teenager back to Saint-Etienne should also give them extra flexibility in the transfer market this summer. 

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