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Atletico Madrid Wishlist €50m Rated Arsenal Star, Diego Simeone Very Keen on Signing him

William Saliba, Atletico Madrid

According to recent reports in Spain, Atletico Madrid have expressed interest in Arsenal defender William Saliba and could make a move in the 2023 summer transfer window. The Rojiblancos have been dreadful at the back this season and manager Diego Simeone wants to bring in reinforcements.

William Saliba was signed by Arsenal for £27m fee from Saint-Etienne in 2019, but he was sent back on loan to the French club for the 2019-20 season. After joining up with the Arsenal squad the next campaign, he failed to make the first-team squad.

The Frenchman was loaned out to OGC Nice for a six-month loan spell in January. Thereafter, the defender was once again sent on a year-long loan to Marseille for the 2021-22 season, where he played extremely well and won the Ligue 1 Young Player of the Year.

William Saliba, Atletico Madrid
Image Obtained Via The Times

The 21-year-old spent his first three seasons serving loan spells at different clubs without making a single first-team appearance for the Gunners. Finally, this season, Arteta elected to keep the French centre-back at the Emirates stadium and the player has managed to force his way into the manager’s setup.

According to Spanish outlet Fichajes (via Football 365), Atletico Madrid have shortlisted three players to strengthen their defence and Arsenal’s William Saliba is amongst the chosen players. Manager Diego Simeone is a huge admirer of the centre-back since his Ligue 1 days.

The Argentine manager has a ‘massive problem’ in his defence. The team’s primary centre-backs – Stefan Savic, Jose Gimenez and Felipe – have underperformed this campaign. The Spanish side are lingering at fifth in La Liga and have also crashed out of Europe this season.

Simeone’s team are known for having a solid defensive setup. Therefore, the Argentinian wants to reinforce his backline by bringing in the French defender. The Rojiblancos have been keenly following Saliba’s progress after excelling during his loan spell at Marseille.

Meanwhile, Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta considers the 21-year-old as untouchable, which is why the Gunners want to extend his contract at the Emirates. The Frenchman still has two more years left in his current deal, but the North London side are looking to tie him down on a long-term contract by offering a bumper new deal.

Why Saliba Is Significant For Arsenal’s Title Chances?

William Saliba has formed a formidable partnership with Gabriel Magalhaes in the centre of defence, with the pair starting all 14 Premier League games so far. Both have received call-ups to their respective countries for the ongoing FIFA World Cup.

The 21-year-old’s future at Arsenal is in question because he is in the final two years of his contract. The French international spent a number of seasons out on loan back in his home country at St-Etienne, OGC Nice and last term at Olympique Marseille, where he impressed the most.

Saliba was part of the Arsenal squad that won the Community Shield in 2020, but he managed to get only eight games for the U-23s before going on consecutive loan spells. Marseille tried to sign him permanently but failed as Arsenal deemed the defender an integral part of their long-term project.

This season, he has scored twice and assisted once, while also making two appearances in the Europa League (stats via Transfermarkt). In an interview with Arsenal in October, the Frenchman stated that his goal is to bring the club back to the top where it belongs and make the Gunners a dominant team once again:

“I want to win everything. I want to help the club to come back to the very top. I will give everything for this club to help us get back there.”

“It has been hard for me as well at times at Arsenal, not playing all the time, but sometimes sport is like this. You don’t only have good moments – it’s part of life. That’s all in the past. Now I’m just focused on the present and on the future. I want to do my best for Arsenal and keep improving and working hard every day.”

Meanwhile, French champions Paris Saint-Germain are also keen on the French defender and will be looking to bring the player back to his home country. Mikel Arteta was at first unsure about Saliba’s future when he returned from loan as their relationship had turned sour over the past few years, but it turned out to be different. Arteta said:

“I was really impressed and surprised when I spoke to him. The way the relationship started, [I wondered] if there was damage there because he had certain expectations.”

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Atletico Madrid have kept William Saliba on top of their three-man wishlist. Athletic Bilbao’s Inigo Martinez and Torino’s Perr Schuurs have been wishlisted as backups in case the Rojiblancos fail to negotiate a deal with the North London side.

Arsenal have the option to extend the Frenchman’s contract for another one-year, but with multiple clubs behind his signature, it is better for the Gunners to tie him down soon to a long-term contract.

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