Arsenal defender William Saliba is reportedly the subject of fresh interest from La Liga side Atletico Madrid as they are plotting a ‘generational change’.
The centre-back returned to the Gunners in the summer following a spell on loan at Marseille in Ligue 1.
Saliba’s time on loan in France did him a world of good as he was one of the best defenders in the league last season.
His future at Arsenal was still unclear heading into the summer and Atletico Madrid were among the clubs linked with him.
Arsenal eventually did enough to tempt Saliba to remain at the club, and they have reaped the rewards of that this season.
Saliba has been one of the Premier League’s breakout stars this term and he now looks likely to start for France at the World Cup this winter.
Madrid will no doubt be gutted that they were unable to sign Saliba, especially with how they have started the new season.
The Spanish outfit currently sit nine points adrift of league leaders Real Madrid in La Liga. They have also exited Europe after finishing bottom of their Champions League group.
Diego Simeone’s side were beaten 2-1 by Porto in their final group game on Tuesday night so they end up behind them, Club Brugge and Bayer Leverkusen.
Spanish outlet Fichajes are reporting that Atletico have a ‘massive problem’ at centre-back with Felipe, Stefan Savic, Jose Maria Gimenez ‘not at the level expected of them’.
Simeone’s side have been known for having a solid defence in the past but they now need to ‘reinforce’ their backline.
The report lists three players who are admired by Atletico Madrid, and Saliba is among them.
It is suggested that Atletico Madrid came ‘really close’ to signing him before he joined Arsenal. They also ‘returned to the fray last season’ following his ‘explosion at Marseile’.
Fichajes also state that it is one of Simeone’s ‘great wishes’ to sign Saliba but he is considered ‘untouchable by Mikel Arteta’.’
The other players on the agenda for Atletico Madrid are Athletico Bilbao’s Inigo Martinez and Torino’s Perr Schuurs.
Saliba would be pretty foolish to leave Arsenal for Atletico Madrid at the moment given the trajectory that both clubs are on.
While Madrid are floundering, the Gunners are top of the Premier League and they are through to the knockout stages of the Europa League.
The defender is out of contract in 2024 and Arsenal are desperate to tie him down to a longer deal.
David Ornstein of The Athletic reported on Monday that the Londoners have ‘make an offer to Saliba’. The report states.
‘Those early talks have since turned into formal negotiations and Arsenal have now made an offer.
‘There is no agreement so far but the dialogue will continue, as the north London side try to tie down a player who appears fundamental to Arteta’s team and has many admirers across Europe’.