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William Saliba agrees new Arsenal contract in principle: Defender to pen new four-year deal at Emirates

William Saliba to sign new four-year contract at Arsenal; 22-year-old has been first-team regular for Mikel Arteta's side after spending previous two seasons on loan with Marseille and Nice; Saliba's existing deal had barely 12 months remaining

Arsenal's William Saliba celebrates after scoring his side's opening goal
Image: William Saliba's existing deal was due to expire next year

William Saliba has agreed in principle a new four-year contract with Arsenal, running to 2027.

The French centre-back's existing deal was due to end in 2024, but he is now set to add another three years onto his stay in north London.

Arsenal are now formalising paperwork ahead of an official announcement of his extended stay.

Saliba first signed for the Gunners for a fee of around £27m in 2019 and after a year back on loan with former club Saint-Etienne was then handed the number four shirt - but did not make his first-team debut until August 2022.

The 22-year-old spent 18 months back in France across two further loan spells at Nice and Marseille before finally making his Arsenal bow against Crystal Palace last year, and instantly became a key member of Mikel Arteta's squad.

The defender was instrumental en route to Arsenal's highest points tally since 2004 (84), scoring twice in 27 Premier League appearances for the club.

Carra: Saliba would have got Arsenal closer

Speaking last month, Sky Sports' Jamie Carragher said Saliba's injury which ruled him out for much of the second half of Arsenal's season didn't cost them the league title - but that they would have got far closer to winning it with him.

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He said: "I don't think him being there for the full season would have meant that Arsenal would have gone on and won the title.

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Speaking on Monday Night Football, Jamie Carragher analysed where it went wrong for Arsenal at the back and took a closer look at William Saliba's importance

"I'm sure they would have been a lot closer, but there are still things he needs to improve on, to get to the level I'm talking about, of other central defenders who have gone on to win titles.

"I'm not saying he wouldn't have made a huge difference in the second half of the season. He would have, because he's better than Rob Holding, he's better than Kiwior, there's no doubt."

Analysis: Why Saliba contract is key

Sky Sports' Nick Wright:

William Saliba will follow Gabriel Martinelli, Aaron Ramsdale and Bukayo Saka in committing his long-term future to Arsenal. The club have acted swiftly and efficiently to tie down their best young stars.

Most fans would agree, though, that, of that group, Saliba's future seemed the most uncertain. While the others are firmly embedded at the club - since childhood in Saka's case - the Frenchman still feels like a relatively new arrival, despite joining in 2019.

There were times, during his loan spells in France, when it seemed he may leave Arsenal before even featuring for them, but in the end he was worth the wait, the 22-year-old establishing himself as one of the Premier League's very best young centre-backs this season.

Why Saliba's absence hurt Arsenal
Why Saliba's absence hurt Arsenal

Why William Saliba's injury hurt Arsenal offensively as well as defensively last season.

His speed, physicality and technical class helped transform Arsenal's way of playing, allowing Mikel Arteta to push his side further up the pitch, but it was when he succumbed to a back injury in March that his importance became clearest. Arsenal were five points clear of Man City at that point. They finished five points behind them.

His absence hurt them in an offensive sense as well as defensively, with those thrust into his place unable to replicate his crucial role in Arsenal's build-up play, the team losing its rhythm as well as its aura.

That is not to say they would have won the title had Saliba stayed fit. Manchester City's relentlessness was such that it probably would have proved beyond them regardless. But their chances of doing so in future are far greater with Saliba signed up.

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