Southampton have seemingly missed out on reported target William Saliba this summer, with the Arsenal man set to join Marseille on loan for next season.
Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side were linked with a move for the 20-year-old defender recently but he will be returning to Ligue 1 on loan for the 2021/22 campaign after spending last season with OGC Nice.
The Athletic journalist David Ornstein confirmed on Twitter that the young centre-back would join Marseille, which comes as a blow to Southampton, as his performances in recent seasons suggest that he could have been a stellar addition at St Mary’s.
Saliba is yet to make an appearance for Arsenal since joining from Saint Etienne in 2019, despite their defensive problems in recent seasons and he could’ve helped to steady the ship at Southampton after Hasenhuttl’s side conceded the second-most goals in the Premier League last season, with only relegated West Brom conceding more.
Last season saw the £16.2m-rated Frenchman make 20 appearances for Nice in Ligue 1, contributing one goal and averaging a solid, if unspectacular, 6.66/10 average rating from WhoScored for his performances.
Had he replicated those performances at Southampton, he would’ve been rated as the joint-10th best performer in Hasenhuttl’s squad, which suggests that he would’ve been a worthwhile addition this summer.
Although Arsenal are unlikely to want to sell the defender permanently, a loan move to Southampton would’ve suited both parties, as he could’ve established himself as a key player at St Mary’s and furthered his development by earning some valuable experience in the Premier League.
Saliba has won a lot of plaudits for his performances in Ligue 1 in recent seasons, with French youth coach Jean-Luc Vannuchi singing his praises after he joined Arsenal, saying:
“My first impression was that this was the biggest man of his generation.
“The difference between him and the other players was massive.
“When he took the ball and ran into midfield, no one could stop him. He was like a monster compared to the others. When he played with St-Etienne it looked normal for him, even though he was so young.”
He also compared his playing style to that of Virgil van Dijk and Raphael Varane, which suggests that he could’ve been an excellent signing for the Saints, and Hasenhuttl should be disappointed that he has instead opted to join Marseille.
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