By George Overhill

26th May, 2022 | 9:00pm

Arsenal have plans for William Saliba, may offer new deal - Fabrizio Romano

Arsenal expect William Saliba to be part of the first-team squad next season and he may get a new deal at the club, according to Fabrizio Romano.

The 21-year-old defender has been on loan at Marseille this year and enjoyed a successful campaign as a certain starter, with 51 appearances in all competitions.

As he still hasn’t made a first-team appearance for the Gunners, since arriving for big money three years ago, it appeared the Frenchman may remain in his home country.

But contrary to the signals that have been given previously, those in charge apparently have him in their thoughts as Romano wrote on Twitter Thursday morning (26 May): “Arsenal plan for William Saliba has not changed: he’s considered an important player for present and future, both [Mikel] Arteta and Edu want him as part of the team for next season.

“There will be conversation on potential new contract soon, up to Saliba too.”

At long last

Perhaps Arsenal were playing the long game all along and will benefit from a fully-formed senior player when they finally bring him into the fold.

Whether they could have utilised him themselves at some point over the previous three seasons and reached the same situation is now a moot point.

They may have a job to do to convince Saliba that he wants to be at the Emirates long term, as it had previously seemed like the manager wasn’t interested in the former Saint-Etienne youngster since he wasn’t one of his own signings.

Saliba is now a full French international so if he can slip straight into the back line next season and perform as he has done in Ligue 1 it will be like a new signing, as the cliché goes.

Metro has reported that Arsenal’s late-season failure to qualify for the Champions League has left them open to a bid from Juventus for Gabriel Magalhaes as they look to replace the retiring Giorgio Chiellini.

The club were likely to add a central defender anyway, but if Gabriel leaves there will be a pressing need alongside Ben White that Saliba could quickly fill.

It is late in the day for Edu and Arteta to communicate these plans to the youngster, so it remains to be seen how receptive he is to the idea.

In other Arsenal news, Arteta must make Gabriel Martinelli his main man next year.