Arsenal look likely to sign William Saliba from Saint-Etienne this summer despite plenty of interest from rival clubs.
The 18-year-old had caught the attention of both Manchester City and Manchester United, with both in need of defensive reinforcements.
Tottenham are thought to have made a late bid for the defender but the Gunners are the ones who have won the race for his signature.
According to The Sun, Arsenal have beaten them to it and have reached an agreement with the centre-back to bring him to the Emirates on a five-year deal as they seek a replacement for Laurent Koscielny.
The 6ft4in defender has been backed for a bright future and should only get better considering he is only 18-years-old.
Below talkSPORT.com gives an in-depth insight into all you need to know about Saliba…
William Saliba – 2018/19
All competition appearances: 19
Yellow cards: 1
Pass success rate: 85.6 per cent
Tackles per game: 2
Interceptions per game: 1.8
Clearances per game: 2.7
Aerial duels won per game: 1.8
Dribbles per game: 0.6
What’s the gossip?
Reports in France claim Arsenal have all-but concluded a deal to sign Saliba on a five-year contract.
The Gunners were among a host of clubs keeping tabs on the defender, with Real Madrid and both Manchester clubs tracking his progress.
Saliba’s representative, Djibril Niang had added fuel to the fire over where he would could be heading next, by uploading an Instagram story of himself inside a bar in Manchester recently.
Club president Bernard Caiazzo confirmed that everything is going through with the Gunners and he will be loaned straight back.
Speaking to Le Progres, Caiazzo said: “Everything is on track with Arsenal.
“William will spend next season with us.”
The French publication also claimed that the clause keeping Saliba at the club next season was considered non-negotiable by the Ligue 1 side.
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Club career so far?
The Bondy-born defender began playing football at the age of six and was coached by the father of PSG and World Cup-winning striker Kylian Mbappe.
He played for Saint-Etienne youth set-up for two years before signing his first professional contract, aged 17, in May 2018.
Saliba then made his first professional appearance for the club early last season in September 2018.
Last season he played 16 times in the league and 19 in all competitions.
How much is he likely to cost?
While Arsenal have reportedly reached an agreement for Saliba, a fee is still to be decided between the two clubs.
The French side are believed to want around £26million, but Arsenal will be hoping to thrash out a lower deal given they only have a £40million transfer budget to work with.
That can of course increase through player sales, though it is almost impossible to sign an above-average player for under £50million – let alone any individual considered among the elite and Emery will probably have to pay the going rate if he wants to secure Saliba.
What is being said about him?
Former Arsenal star Lauren said: “He’s strong, tall, can come out of the back with the ball and an international for France.
“He reads the game very well, which is important for a player at the back, you have to anticipate and he looks very good at just 18, so the future is bright.”
Jose Mourinho, former Manchester United, Chelsea and Real Madrid boss said: “William Saliba has all the assets to become a good player, just like Kurt Zouma, who I signed [from Saint-Etienne].” he told RMC.
How will he fit into Arsenal’s team?
Event though he’s still only a teenager, Saliba is physically imposing and is more than capable of holding his own against burly forwards in the heart of defence.
The club are keen to replace long-serving captain Koscielny, who has been ravaged by injuries over the past couple of seasons and Saliba would be a long-term replacement at centre-back, where he would compliment the uncompromising style of Sokratis.
With Hector Bellerin still sidelined, do not be surprised to see Saliba operate as a right-back, where he played on numerous occasions when called upon to do so last season.