Real Madrid pressure ‘could be too great’ for Arsenal as Gunners star could follow Mbappe to Bernabeu

Joe Williams
Arsenal defender William Saliba
William Saliba has been linked with Real Madrid.

Arsenal could bend to the pressure that Real Madrid could exert on them over a potential transfer for William Saliba, according to reports.

The Gunners had a brilliant season in 2023/24 with Mikel Arteta’s side only losing out on the Premier League title to Manchester City on the final day of the campaign.

Arsenal have improved their reputation under Mikel Arteta with the Gunners now once again one of the most attractive sides to play for in European football.

As well as pushing Man City close in the Premier League, Arsenal have qualified for the Champions League for the second year in a row, crucial to tempting any top players to the club.

But there are claims that the Gunners will have to be wary of losing some of their top players after their stock increased over the past couple of seasons, including France international Saliba.

The centre-back has formed a brilliant partnership with Gabriel Magalhaes in the hear of the Arsenal backline and now he’s attracting interest from Real Madrid.

Reports in Spain claim that the La Liga champions and Paris Saint-Germain are ‘interested in signing’ Saliba over the summer but Arsenal have ‘no intention of letting one of its stars go’.

However, it is claimed that ‘the pressure from Real Madrid and PSG could be too great’ for the Gunners as they look to hang on to one of their prized assets.

Commentator Darren Fletcher gave Saliba a rave review in France’s victory over Belgium in the last016 of Euro 2024, he said on Fox Sports‘ live coverage: “I didn’t realise the pockets on the French shorts were this big but Saliba’s managed to fit [Romelu] Lukaku in his.”

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France boss Didier Deschamps looked to temper expectations of Saliba as he insisted in March that there was still things he doesn’t “like so much” about the Arsenal defender’s game.

Deschamps said: “He is having a good season, but he also does things that I don’t like so much.

“For France, he has limited game time, but when he plays, that hasn’t necessarily gone well.

“The hierarchy doesn’t favour him at the moment, but he is here. Dayot Upamecano has had game time and perhaps William has had less.

“With certain players, I make sure to persevere, because it can be confidence or little blockages that can shift.

“Some don’t have any concerns, some need game time. William has had less game time, so that doesn’t allow him to be very calm.”

Bologna centre-back Riccardo Calafiori’s stock has risen at Euro 2024 before Italy were dumped out of the tournament and now there are rumours Arsenal have made a bid for the defender.

Charles Watts, who has covered Arsenal for years, brought an update on the Gunners’ interest in Calafiori on Tuesday.

Watts wrote in his Caught Offside column: “The current links with Riccardo Calafiori remind me of Arsenal’s interest in Manuel Locatelli a few years ago. The club liked Locatelli and had made that known to the player’s representatives, but they were always under the impression that he wanted to join Juventus. So while the interest was there, it never really went any further than that.

“And that’s how I see things with Calafiori right now. Arsenal are interested in him and have expressed that interest. Bologna are aware of it and so is the player. Calafiori is seen as someone who could come in and strengthen Mikel Arteta’s defensive options this summer.

“But Arsenal know that there is widespread interest in him from other clubs, both in Italy and in the Premier League. So it will not be an easy deal to get done should Bologna agree to let him go.

“It is one to keep an eye on though as the summer progresses and there’s no doubt it would be an exciting signing for the Gunners should they be able to pull it off.

“Calafiori has obviously put himself in a shop window with his performances at the Euros. Several top clubs are looking at him, but the expectation right now is that he would favour a move to Juventus over all other options.

“At the moment there seems to be a bit of animosity between Bologna and Juventus, however, because of Thiago Motta’s decision to move to Turin, so Bologna are looking to make life as difficult as possible for Juventus as they look to lure Calafiori away as well.

“For Bologna, it is of course very beneficial to have Arsenal and Chelsea looking at the player as that could strengthen their hand when it comes to any future negotiations with Juventus.

“Arsenal are looking at possible new arrivals in defence this summer, but they have good options at the back and I don’t really see them spending big money on someone like Calafiori unless they move a player on and right now that doesn’t seem close to happening.

“There is interest from Italian clubs in Jakob Kiwior, but it would take a sizeable bid to sign the Poland international, who impressed last season – especially over the closing months of the campaign.”