Mikel Arteta is optimistic that Arsenal defender William Saliba will pen a new long-term contract to ward off interest from clubs across Europe.
The 21-year-old has had loan spells at Saint-Etienne, Nice and Marseille in recent years but he has been a key player for Arsenal this term.
He is due to be out of contract in 2024 but he is in talks about an extension. It has been suggested that a ‘thorny issue’ is over the length of the new deal.
Saliba’s form has caught the attention of Real Madrid and they are reportedly keen to sign him.
But Arteta is of the belief that the defender wants to remain at Arsenal
“We have a few of those [young players] that we are willing to extend the contract,” said Arteta.
“Willy is one of them. I think he’s shown in the months that he’s been with us the quality and the personality he has to play at the level that we want. We are trying to do that because we know he can be a really important part of our plans.
“I hope [talks are progressing well]. That’s more to [sporting director] Edu and the board to be discussing with him. What I know is that the player is really happy, the player wants to be here and that’s the main thing.”
Arsenal have ensured they will close out the calendar year at the top of the Premier League after defeating West Ham 3-1 in their return to top-flight action after the World Cup.
They travel to Brighton on Saturday for the final Premier League clash of 2022 before starting 2023 in a critical match-up against third-placed Newcastle on January 3.
Arteta has no fresh injury concerns ahead of Saturday’s contest and will be boosted by the return of Takehiro Tomiyasu, who missed the West Ham victory.
“Every game is a challenge and different,” Arteta said. “[Brighton] will be a very special day, it’s New Year’s Eve and I’m sure the stadium will be pretty loud. We’re going to be ready for that.
“They are a really good team. They are playing at a level that dominates almost every phase of play that is relevant to dominate a football match. A team that has a lot of confidence and plays with a lot of personality. They’re someone who I’ve followed for a period now.”
The Gunners boss was full of praise for opposite number Roberto De Zerbi, who was appointed following Graham Potter’s move to Chelsea in September.
“Every manager has his ideas and he’s different,” he added. “You can see a lot of similarities with what he did at Sassuolo and Shakhtar. It’s his way of understanding the game and he always plays that way.”
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