William Saliba finally allowed dream Arsenal shirt after Premier League rule blocked him

The French defender has signed a new long-term deal at the club, ending previous speculation over his future, and he’ll be sporting a new look in the coming season.

William Saliba has a new Arsenal contract, and a new Gunners shirt number too.

The French centre-back has ended speculation over his future by signing a new long-term contract at the Emirates Stadium after what was a breakthrough 2022-23 campaign.

The 22-year-old France international has been an Arsenal player for four years, but after loan deals at former club Saint-Etienne and fellow Ligue 1 outfits Nice and Marseille, he returned to play a starring role in Arsenal’s title challenge last season.

Saliba played 33 times for the Gunners in all competitions last season, scoring three goals, and indeed it was his absence through injury which many feel ultimately cost Mikel Arteta’s side in their title challenge.

He will return for 2023-24 with a new look, having switched from the No.12 shirt to the No.2 following the signing of his new deal.

Saliba wore the No.2 during his period at Marseille, while he also wears the number for France.

It is known to be his favoured shirt number, and he also previously posted pictures of personalised Nike trainers with ‘WS2’ imprinted on them on his Instagram.

He requested the No.2 shirt last season following the departure of Hector Bellerin at the end of the summer transfer window, but given that he had already played in the Premier League in his No.12 shirt he wasn’t allowed to change.

Upon the signing of the deal Gunners sporting director Edu said: “We are so happy to have signed a new deal with William Saliba.

“William is part of our vision to keep our talented young players, who will hopefully be successful with us for many years to come, so that we can grow and progress together. I know the supporters will be just as happy as we are to see William continue with us in the future.”

Boss Mikel Arteta added: “To have William extend his contract with us was something we have wanted to do for a long time. William proved last season just how good and how important he is to our squad.

“The ability he has at his young age of just 22 is exciting, and there is of course so much more room for development with any player at this stage of their career. We’re looking forward to continuing to work with William in the years to come.”

The new deal is the second signed by an Arsenal player this week, with winger Reiss Nelson also committing his future to the club until 2027 having seen his previous deal expire.

Arsenal are also closing in on moves for Declan Rice and Jurrien Timber, with the pair both undergoing medicals ahead of switches to the Emirates, where they will join fellow new arrival Kai Havertz, who has taken his favoured No.29 after moving from Chelsea this summer.

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