St-Etienne say goodbye to Arsenal loanee William Saliba but door stays open for potential return

St-Etienne have bid farewell to William Saliba, confirming the defender’s departure for Arsenal as one coach opened the door to a potential return for the player.

The teenage centre-half spent this season on loan at his boyhood club after signing for the Gunners last summer.

There were hopes he would make one final appearance for St-Etienne in next weekend’s French Cup final against PSG but a falling out between the two clubs has prevented that.

Les Verts claimed Arsenal had been guilty of ‘imposing absolutely unacceptable sports and financial conditions’ but the Gunners hit back, claiming they had merely asked that the French side let Saliba follow a specially designed fitness programme following injury and the coronavirus break.

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Relations between Saliba and St-Etienne seem a little more cordial, however, with the club posting a farewell message to the player on Twitter.

In the video, captioned “William, your Green family wishes you all the best for the rest of your career”, different St-Etienne players – including former Gunners defender Mathieu Debuchy – and coaching staff hold up four fingers in honour of the 19-year-old’s squad number.

They then send various good luck messages in French, wishing him well for his move to the Gunners.

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One member of Le Verts’ coaching staff praised the defender as an example for other young players and said he will always be welcome back at the club.

It comes after Saliba penned an emotional farewell message to St-Etienne last week.

He wrote: “It is time for me to say goodbye to you with great emotion and sadness, and above all to thank you, the Greens, for all these wonderful years that I spent from my arrival at the training center to the professional world.

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“I want to thank all the coaches that I have had, who have made me progress and grow as a player and as a man. I would also like to thank all the club staff who work for our well-being on a daily basis.

“And of course I thank from the bottom of my heart all the wonderful supporters who have…