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Defender William Saliba commits to Arsenal with new long-term contract

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 7 Jul 2023

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William Saliba has become the latest big-name Arsenal star to commit his future to the club after signing a new long-term contract.

The France defender played a pivotal role as the Gunners ultimately came up short in their Premier League title tilt last season and has now agreed fresh terms at the Emirates Stadium.

Saliba, 22, was an ever-present in the league until he suffered a back injury during the Europa League defeat to Sporting in mid-March – an issue that would ultimately rule him out for the remainder of the campaign.

Without him, Mikel Arteta’s side saw their lead at the top of the table cut by Manchester City, who eventually powered past Arsenal to retain their title.

Now, though, an agreement has finally been reached that ties Saliba to the club on a four-year deal, the PA new agency understands.

“I was born in north Paris, but became a man in north London,” Saliba said in a video message for Arsenal fans on the club’s Twitter account.

“I know it must have been strange for you. I show up, a kid you have never heard of and then keep going away to different clubs (on loan) before you get to see me play.

“But I know now this was the best plan for me, and last summer when I came back to the club and became a pivotal part of the team words cannot describe how I feel here. how you (fans) make me feel.

“Having the confidence of the boss and the staff, and then having your love and support made me feel 10 feet tall… so thank you Gooners, this if for you. We are together and let’s keep moving.”

Saliba, who will move to the number two shirt next season, did not make his competitive Arsenal debut until the start of last season, despite joining from St Etienne in 2019 for a reported £27million.

Instead, the centre-back was loaned back to his former club before also spending time at Nice and Marseille – being named Ligue 1 young player of the year after a fine 2021/22 season with the latter.

Saliba’s performances for Arsenal attracted interest from some of Europe’s biggest clubs, with Arteta happy to see Saliba extend his stay in north London

“To have William extend his contract with us was something we have wanted to do for a long time. William proved last season just how good and how important he is to our squad,” Arteta said on the club website.

“The ability he has at his young age of just 22 is exciting, and there is of course so much more room for development with any player at this stage of their career. We’re looking forward to continuing to work with William in the years to come.”

Arsenal sporting director Edu added: “William is part of our vision to keep our talented young players, who will hopefully be successful with us for many years to come, so that we can grow and progress together.”

The defender becomes the latest of Arteta’s key men to sign a new contract with Gabriel Martinelli, Bukayo Saka and Aaron Ramsdale having already done so earlier this year and Saliba’s centre-back partner Gabriel Magalhaes signing on last October.

Reiss Nelson, too, agreed a fresh deal on Thursday as Arteta aims to maintain the nucleus of the squad that almost ended a 19-year wait for a Premier League title.

One player who played a key role last season who will not be part of Arteta’s ranks moving forward is Granit Xhaka – the midfielder having joined Bayer Leverkusen for £21.4million on Thursday.

However, Declan Rice is set to undergo a medical with the West Ham captain to become the most expensive British player in Premier League history when his £105million move across the capital goes through.

Rice will join Kai Havertz in signing for Arsenal this summer while Ajax defender Jurrien Timber is also close to completing a switch to the Emirates.

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