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Bid imminent: Arsenal ready to step up pursuit of £26m-rated starlet to address key issue

Arsenal have been tipped to make their opening offer to Saint Etienne for talented youngster William Saliba by the end of this week.

The Gunners are in need of defensive reinforcements this summer having come off the back of a campaign in which they conceded 51 goals in 38 Premier League games.

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That was the second worst defensive record of the top nine sides in the standings, and so evidently Unai Emery needs to tighten things up at the back this summer.

With that in mind, The Express, via Yahoo Sport France, have reported that they will make their first bid for £26m-rated starlet Saliba this week as they look to prise the 18-year-old away from the Ligue 1 outfit.

Importantly though, there is one potential issue to consider for the Gunners, as it’s claimed that St Etienne would want Saliba back on loan for a year.

However, given their defensive woes detailed above, Arsenal need reinforcements in that department immediately and surely can’t afford to use a big chunk of their transfer budget this summer on a player who won’t return for 12 months.

As a result, while they may well launch their first offer this week, that is by no means a guarantee that a deal could be close as that will be a major sticking point in talks between the two clubs it seems.

While there is plenty of excitement over Saliba’s potential, it does still raise question marks as to whether Arsenal should be looking for a more experienced and established option in such a key role.

However, with talkSPORT noting that they may only have around £40m to spend this summer, they will have to be astute in the market to bring in players that can add quality and depth to Emery’s squad.

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