France calls up £27million Arsenal defender Saliba

Arsenal defender William Saliba has been included in France’s squad for the first time as a replacement for Bayern Munich’s Benjamin Pavard.

The 20-year-old, who is currently on loan to Marseille, has impressed in Ligue 1 with a side currently second behind PSG.

The centre-back has appeared in all competitions for 40 appearances for Jorge Sampaoli so far this campaign and may now get his chance to shine on the international stage as Pavard has tested positive for Covid-19.

The Gunners signed the defender for £27 million in 2019, but he has yet to make a competitive first-team appearance with his only appearances for the Under-23s and in pre-season exhibition games.

Since his arrival at the Emirates, the defender has spent three times on loan in France this season, first in St Etienne, then Nice and now Marseille.

Saliba, who has represented France in every under-16 age group, is the second replacement to be called up by Didier Deschamps after AC Milan striker Olivier Giroud was added to replace the injured Karim Benzema.

France, which had already qualified for the World Cup in Qatar, will play friendly home matches against Ivory Coast and South Africa during the international match.

Saliba could use this as another chance to prove himself with his eyes set on a breakthrough in Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal squad next season.

Marseille are reportedly looking to hire the defender on a permanent basis, while The Gunners are exploring the possibility of extending his current contract, the BBC said.†

Saliba’s current contract expires in 2024 and Arsenal are reportedly set to open preliminary talks over a new contract towards the end of his Marseille loan deal.

Playing time has been the main issue for the youngster in the past, but he could be used in rotation alongside Ben White and Gabriel, who have signed £50million, if the Gunners qualify for European football next season, as they currently sit fourth. in the Premier League.

Saliba has also been used as a right-back by Marseille during the season and could cover that position on his return to Arsenal, with Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Hector Bellerin both leaving in the summer.

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