Arsenal’s Europa League squad hints Mikel Arteta has made William Saliba transfer decision

Mesut Ozil and Sokratis have been left out of Arsenal’s Europa League squad as expected, but William Saliba is another absentee from the 25-man list. Arsenal’s A List has been confirmed by UEFA with Ozil, Sokratis, Saliba and Gabriel Martinelli all omitted.

Brazilian attacker Martinelli’s absence is not a surprise given he is out for the rest of 2020 with a knee injury.

The Gunners’ Europa League group stage campaign, in which they face Rapid Vienna, Molde and Dundalk, will be wrapped up by December 10 and so Martinelli would not have been able to play any part.

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But Saliba being left out indicates that the Frenchman is headed for a loan move to the Championship.

The 19-year-old joined up with Arsenal after a year on loan at Saint-Etienne, having joined the north London club for £27m last summer.

There were high hopes for the France youth international but he has yet to be included in a match-day squad in the Premier League.

He was an unused substitute for the Community Shield win over Liverpool and also the Carabao Cup win over Leicester.

But he did play the full 90 minutes and captained Arsenal’s under-23 side to a Premier League 2 draw with Brighton last month.

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However, it is clear Arteta is keen to send Saliba out on loan to get him regular minutes in English football.

The Europa League would have been an ideal competition to blood in the teenager given the group stages are less competitive than the knockout stages and allow for greater rotation of the team.

Unlike some of Arsenal’s other youngsters, Saliba cannot go on the club’s under-21 list having not been at the club for two years yet.

The Evening Standard say Norwich, relegated to the Championship from the Premier League, are among the second-tier teams keen on taking Saliba on loan.

Watford had wanted to sign the Frenchman permanently a year ago and could also enter the equation to sign him on loan this summer.

Arsenal are said to be eager to manage Saliba’s development carefully with the Londoners having high hope for the player’s long-term future at the Emirates.

Championship clubs have until October 16 to do deals with Premier League sides while the Portuguese transfer window remains open until the same date.

Fulham had hoped to clinch a deadline day switch for Saliba on Monday but a move to Arsenal’s top-flight counterparts did not come to fruition.


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If a deal cannot be struck, Premier League rules mean Saliba would be able to be included as an under-21 player rather than taking up a senior spot.

Arsenal can only have 17 non-homegrown players in their 25-man squad for the league but have 19 available, with Ozil and Sokratis again likely to be excluded.

Premier League rules state: “A ‘Home-Grown Player’ means a player who, irrespective of nationality or age, has been registered with any club affiliated to The Football Association or the Football Association of Wales for a period, continuous or not, of three entire seasons, or 36 months, before his 21st birthday (or the end of the season during which he turns 21).”

For the 2019-20 season, players born on or after 1 January 1998 qualify for the under-21 list and so do not have to take up a non-homegrown spot.

Meanwhile, Arsenal’s Europa League campaign gets underway against their Group B opponents Rapid Vienna in Austria on Thursday October 22.

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