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Official: Arsenal sign Saint-Etienne star William Saliba

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Arsenal have announced the signing of highly-rated defender William Saliba from Saint-Etienne on a long-term deal.

Arsenal had been locked in talks with Saint-Etienne for quite some time for Saliba, who had a breakthrough campaign during the previous term despite only signing his first professional contract last year.

Former Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho has even compared the 18-year-old to Chelsea’s Kurt Zouma and backed him to become a top-player for France in the future.

Saliba’s growing profile also captured the interest of Arsenal’s north London rivals Tottenham. While reports have linked Real Madrid and United with moves for the centre-back across the past few months.

But Arsenal have sealed a deal to sign the talented Saliba, which will see him return to Saint-Etienne for next season as part of the agreement.

“It’s a massive pleasure to sign for a really, really big English club,” the teenage star told Arsenal.com.

“This is the biggest club in England for me, so it was an easy decision. I didn’t think twice about signing here, so I’m really happy.

“The history, the badge… since I was little, I’ve been watching Arsenal play in the Champions League and so on.

“And there are a lot of French players who have come through here. So that really helped me to make my mind up.

“I spoke to Matteo [Guendouzi]. I even bumped into him at a funfair in Paris, and that’s where I told him that Arsenal wanted to sign me!

“He gently advised me to come here and explained what it was like.

“I wanted to prove myself for another year at Saint-Etienne, before I come to try and establish myself here at Arsenal.

“This is a big club, and when you come here, you need to be ready. So I’m going to try and have a great season with the club that developed me in order to be ready for Arsenal.

Head coach Unai Emery added: “We’re delighted William is joining us.

“Many teams wanted him but he decided he wanted to come to us and be part of our future.

“He will stay in France next season for more experience and then we look forward to him joining our group.”

Saliba is believed to have put pen to paper on a five-year contract for a reported transfer fee of €30m.

Arsenal also announced their capture of Real Madrid midfielder Dani Ceballos on a season-long loan deal on Thursday.