'Saliba is welcome back at Saint Etienne' - Arsenal outcast encouraged to return to France by Debuchy

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William Saliba Arsenal 2020-21
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A former Gunners defender says there is still a place open for his fellow countryman at Geoffroy Stadium if he decides to leave north London

William Saliba has been encouraged to return to France by Mathieu Debuchy, who says the Arsenal outcast would be welcome back at Saint Etienne this winter.

Saliba signed for Arsenal from Saint Etienne in a £27 million ($36m) deal in July 2019, and subsequently returned to Geoffroy Stadium on loan for a final season.

The 19-year-old finally joined up with his new team-mates at the Emirates Stadium this summer, but has since failed to force his way into Mikel Arteta's senior squad.

The Frenchman is still awaiting his full debut for the Gunners, with his meagre five outings for the club to date coming with the Under-23s.

Saint Etienne sought to re-sign the Frenchman on loan before the last transfer deadline, but a final deal never came to fruition, and he has thusly been forced to continue accepting a role on the sidelines behind the likes of David Luiz, Rob Holding, Gabriel Magalhaes and Shkodran Mustafi.

The Ligue 1 outfit are, however, being tipped to reignite their interest in a former talisman when the January window opens, with club captain Debuchy, who took in a spell at the Emirates himself between 2014 and 2018, admitting the team has been weaker since his departure.

"I’m sure in the current state we need two or three players to complete this squad," the ex-Arsenal full-back told Telefoot. "Whether it is in defence and perhaps also in attack. I trust the coach to provide these solutions.

"William… we know his qualities. He was very impressive at Saint Etienne.

"Unfortunately for him at Arsenal the start didn’t go the way he wanted it to, I think. There is William, there is Wesley [Fofana], these are two defenders who left us and who did incredibly well so it was loss.

"If William wants to come back this winter he will be welcome and he will have the advantage of knowing the team."

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Saliba will likely be absent once again when Arsenal play host to Wolves this weekend, where Arteta's men will be eager to build on an impressive 3-0 win away at Molde in the Europa League on Thursday.

The Gunners have slipped to 12th in the Premier League standings after nine fixtures, and were held to a 0-0 draw by newly-promoted Leeds United at Elland Road last time out.

Saint Etienne, meanwhile, are set to welcome Lille to Geoffroy Stadium on Sunday as they seek to put some distance between themselves and the bottom three in Ligue 1 after a poor start to the season.