WILLIAM SALIBA could reportedly be set for a shock summer transfer away from Arsenal without ever having played for the club.
Spanish media claim that Real Madrid are plotting a move for the 20-year-old centre-back once his loan spell at Marseille finishes.
The Gunners defender is currently on his third loan spell away from the Emirates since arriving from Saint-Etienne in 2019 in a £27million deal.
Saliba was instantly sent on loan to St-Etienne for the 2019-20 season, before being shipped out to Nice for the second half of last campaign.
And following the £50m arrival of Ben White last summer, the France youth international departed for Marseille with Mikel Arteta keen for him to play regular football.
He has yet again impressed in Ligue 1 from his 20 outings – helping the Stade Velodrome outfit reach third in the table.
It was said in November how Arsenal were preparing to hand him a new contract with his deal set to expire in 2024.
But according to Fichajes, Real are hoping to lure him to Spain as they look to bolster their backline.
FREE BETS: GET OVER £2,000 IN NEW CUSTOMER DEALS
It is no secret that Los Blancos are in the market for a new centre-half with the club only having Eder Militao, David Alaba and back-up Nacho to rely on.
Chelsea’s Antonio Rudiger has been linked, along with Bayern Munich’s Niklas Sule with the German pair both set to become free agents.
But Fichajes state that Saliba is also on Real’s radar following his dazzling displays at Marseille.
It has been suggested that the player’s age and potential is seen as an attractive option for the Spanish top-flight leaders.
Despite Gabriel and White forging a formidable partnership in North London, it was said earlier this month how Saliba was to be given a chance next term under Arteta.
Arteta refused to play Saliba last season, instead letting him play for the Under-23s after believing he was not ready for the Premier League.
And Saliba has declared that playing for the reserves gave him a ‘good slap’.
He told RMC: “Before going to Arsenal, I said to myself I was going to play, I was sure, I was wondering who I would play alongside.
“I arrive, I play zero matches. I played for the U23s. That gave me a good slap.
“Things go so fast in football. I don’t want to think about the future. I am going to give my all. Then there will be discussions in summer.”
⚽ Read our Transfer News Live blog for the very latest rumours, gossip and done deals