William Saliba will definitely not play for Saint-Etienne in the Coupe de France final against Paris Saint-Germain, manager Claude Puel has confirmed.
Saint-Etienne brought teenager Saliba back to the club on loan last summer, as part of the deal which came from selling him to Arsenal for £27 million ($34m).
Saliba played 17 games for the club throughout the 2019-20 season amid injury problems, until Ligue 1 was abandoned in April as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
In spite of the French league being halted early, it has been confirmed that the Coupe de France and Coupe de la Ligue finals will be played, on July 24 and 31 respectively.
However, Saliba's loan contract has expired in the meantime on June 30, meaning Saint-Etienne had to try and negotiate with Arsenal to allow the young defender to play in the showpiece match. Those talks failed, and the player has returned to London having seemingly played his final game for Les Verts.
"Yes, William Saliba will be absent," confirmed Saint-Etienne coach Puel, when asked whether there was any chance of the young defender representing his boyhood club in the final.
Saint-Etienne previously slammed Arsenal for "imposing absolutely unacceptable sports and financial conditions" after they failed to secure a loan extension for Saliba.
A club statement read: "William Saliba had been training for several days with Claude Puel's group and was obviously very enthusiastic about the idea of finishing his time in Green with such a match.
"Alas, ASSE, which simply wanted the extension of the initial loan until July 24, could not find an agreement in the evening with Arsenal to allow the defender to properly prepare and play this match, the English club imposing absolutely unacceptable sports and financial conditions."
Arsenal responded in kind, explaining that the terms set out for a loan extension were not accepted by the French side and that the well-being of their player is paramount.
Their statement read: “Throughout our discussions with Saint-Etienne, our aim has been to protect the welfare of William Saliba as well as the interests of Arsenal Football Club, while honouring the terms of the loan.
“Despite the loan ending on June 30, we were willing to find a way for William to play in the [French] cup final on July 24, despite having no contractual obligation to do so.
“As William is returning from injury, we asked that Saint-Etienne follow a clear training plan with William in close collaboration with us, to ensure he is fully fit for the start of next season.
“To our surprise we were unable to reach agreement to this plan which was proposed by our medical experts, and we are simply not prepared to risk the welfare of an Arsenal player.
“While it was not our primary concern, and ultimately not relevant as our training plan was not accepted, we also expected not to be financially disadvantaged by extending the loan. This was also not acceptable to Saint-Etienne.
“We know this is a disappointment for William but he understands we are working to protect his long-term interests and those of Arsenal.”