Arteta hints William Saliba could finally break into Arsenal first-team squad after confirming David Luiz transfer exit

ARSENAL boss Mikel Arteta has hinted defender William Saliba could finally break into the first-team squad – TWO YEARS after signing.

The Gunners paid £27million for the 20-year-old in 2019 and he now seems ready to replace David Luiz, with the Brazilian leaving the Emirates at the end of the season.

Speaking to the press, Arteta said: "You will see in the summer, the possible replacement [for Luiz].

"William is our player for sure and that’s the decision that we’re going to be taking soon.

"When we finish the season, we will sit down. We’re still competing.

"We will sit down and discuss the roles of every member of the squad and how they can fulfil that role and he’s our player so he’ll be back here for sure.

"After that, we will make a decision based on the agreement of the role that each player is going to have in the squad."

Saliba hasn't played a first-team match for Arsenal since his big-money move from Saint-Etienne.

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The French defender was immediately loaned back to his former club but didn't get a look in when he returned at the beginning of the current season.

He was sent on loan to Nice for the second half of the campaign and has impressed at the Ligue 1 club, winning their player of the month award in January.

But Saliba was recently handed a one-month suspended ban by the French FA for his role in an X-rated video scandal.

Luiz, meanwhile, will leave the Emirates at the end of the season after Arteta confirmed his expected departure.

Explaining why Saliba was loaned out in January, the Arsenal boss said: "I would have liked for it to have happened at the start of the season.

"We had eight central defenders, which is unheard of, but we didn’t find the right moment, the right club, the right agreement to do that and in my opinion, we could have used those four or five months in a better way.

"We tried to maximise it when we decided to keep him here until December and now he’s had a run of games that he needed after the difficult year that he had in the previous season."

The Gunners are currently ninth in the Premier League and need to win both of their final games against Crystal Palace and Brighton to have any chance of qualifying for European football next season.

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