Arsenal ‘offered’ ex-Man Utd transfer target despite William Saliba’s return

Mikel Arteta reviews Arsenal's defeat at Newcastle

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Arsenal will have the chance to sign Barcelona defender Samuel Umtiti this summer as Mikel Arteta plots defensive reinforcements. Promising centre-back William Saliba will return from his loan at Marseille at the end of the season, but Arteta is eyeing fresh blood and could have a big decision to make.

According to the Daily Star, Barcelona manager Xavi Hernandez deems Umiti surplus to requirements and has decided to offload him this summer. And the La Liga giants will once again offer the 28-year-old to Arsenal, who almost secured his services in the January transfer window.

The Gunners have courted Umtiti since his crucial role in France’s 2018 World Cup win and were set to complete a loan deal in January before he suffered a broken toe. And Barcelona hope they will return to the table six months later as Arteta looks to strengthen his central-defensive depth.

However, some could question why Arsenal would pursue Umtiti with Saliba returning from his mightily impressive loan spell at Marseille. The 21-year-old Frenchman’s future at the Emirates Stadium is already uncertain after a series of snubs since Arteta took charge.

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Unai Emery signed Saliba as Arsenal boss in the summer of 2019, but he is yet to make a single competitive appearance for the club. Since Arteta’s arrival, he’s been sent on a short loan back to Saint-Etienne and spent a further two season-long loans at Nice and Marseille.

But the Spanish coach has stressed that Saliba will receive a chance to enter his plans during pre-season. And the Ligue 1 Young Player of the Year will hope to contest a starting berth with Arteta’s first-choice pairing, Ben White and Gabriel Magalhaes.

Umtiti would offer his young Arsenal squad an experienced head at the core of their defence, boasting plenty of know-how from playing at the summit of club and international football. And Arteta could be eyeing another name in that position after injuries and suspensions have left him short in the Premier League run-in.

With Rob Holding also at the club, though, Umtiti would be their fifth senior centre-half, and if Saliba is unsure over his potential game time, Arteta might be risking losing a huge talent. Marseille unsurprisingly want him to return next season, and he has also publicly admitted he’d be open to remaining in his homeland.

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