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Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta tipped to have conflict with William Saliba by Paul Merson

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta may face tension from William Saliba when the defender returns from a loan spell with Saint-Etienne next season.

That’s the opinion of Gunners legend and Starsport columnist Paul Merson.

Arteta has yet to meet teenage centre-back Saliba, with the Frenchman signed by Unai Emery last summer for £27m before immediately being loaned back to Saint-Etienne for a season by Arsenal.

Of course, the man in charge at the Emirates Stadium has changed now, and Arteta brought in Pablo Mari on loan in January to sure up his backline.

But former Gunner Merson wonders if there could be some conflict from Saliba over Arteta making signings at the back.

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“Arsenal have improved under Mikel Arteta,” Merson said in his latest Starsport column. “The players are all working for him and it looks like there’s more harmony at the club.

“But I still think he’s going to have players wanting to leave at the end of the season, and I think Arsenal will want to get rid of a few.

“They need a clear-out, and he needs to build the spine of a team. All the top teams are strong down the middle. But Arsenal are not.

“The defence is going to take time. He’s brought two defenders in with Cedric and Pablo Mari, and he’s got William Saliba coming in from France in the summer.

William Saliba has impressed for Saint-Etienne this season after overcoming a hamstring injury
(Image: GETTY)
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“Part of me wonders whether he wanted Mari because Saliba isn’t his signing, and there could be some conflict there. But he’s made good signings.”

The main area of concern at Arsenal right now is in their attack though, with the futures of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette looking increasingly uncertain.

Merson doesn’t think getting rid of top scorer and club captain Aubameyang this summer is an option though as he will cost a lot more than he’ll sell for to…