Arsenal: First fixtures of 2021/22 Premier League season
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Arsenal will not stand in the way of William Saliba’s call-up to play for France at the Olympic Games, despite the stance of three French clubs. Saliba has been named in his country’s 18-man squad to play at Tokyo 2020, but the team announcement has not been straightforward.
The defender is yet to make a first-team appearance for the Gunners, but has been called up on the back of his form for Nice.
Saliba made 22 appearances for the French club in the second half of the 2020/21 season and is now set to play for Sylvain Ripoll’s team at the Olympics, which run from July 23 to August 8 in Japan.
Not all the selections for the France squad are so simple, though, with some clubs not happy to let their players go away before the start of the 2021/22 season.
Saliba’s loan club Nice, Rennes and Monaco have all announced that they will not be allowing their players to head to Tokyo this summer.
Their decisions makes things difficult for Ripoli, who, in theory, will be without the services of Benoît Badiashile, Amine Gouiri and Eduardo Camavinga.
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There is a possibility other clubs could follow the three rebel’s lead, but Arsenal will not be one of them.
Goal reports that the club policy is that if selected by their country, players will always be allowed to go – a stance which also counts for Gabriel Magalhaes, who has been selected in Brazil’s squad for the Olympics.
Gabriel Martinelli could be on his way to Tokyo too, with reports suggesting that the young forward could be called up as a replacement for Pedro, who is being prevented from leaving by Flamengo.
Arsenal’s stance makes sense for Saliba, who is hardly an important member of Mikel Arteta’s squad.
The 20-year-old centre-back signed for Arsenal in a £27million transfer from Saint-Etienne in 2019 but has spent the majority of time in France since then.
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With Arsenal set to sign Ben White for £50m from Brighton this summer, The Athletic reports that the Gunners are ready to sanction yet another loan move for Saliba for the 2021/22 campaign.
The Olympics therefore represent a good chance for Saliba to make his case for inclusion in Arsenal’s squad for the coming season.
Full France squad for the Olympic Games:
Goalkeepers: Paul Bernardoni (Angers), Gautier Larsonneur (Brest)
Defenders: Benoît Badiashile (Monaco), Anthony Caci (Strasbourg), Malang Sarr (Chelsea), William Saliba (Arsenal), Pierre Kalulu (AC Milan), Clément Michelin (Lens)
Midfielders: Maxence Caqueret (Lyon), Eduardo Camavinga (Rennes), Florian Thauvin (Tigres), Lucas Tousart (Hertha Berlin), Jonathan Ikoné (Lille), Téji Savanier (Montpellier)
Forwards: André-Pierre Gignac (Tigres), Amine Gouiri (Nice), Randal Kolo Muani (Nantes), Arnaud Nordin (St Étienne)
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