Arsenal plans for William Saliba emerge amid David Luiz contract uncertainty

Transfer news: Who could be on the move this summer?

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Arsenal have begun making plans for next season as uncertainty remains around the make-up of their defence. Mikel Arteta is currently gearing up for the second leg of the Gunners’ Europa League semi-final against Villarreal on Thursday.

Arteta’s side host Villarreal at the Emirates Stadium with the success of their whole season on the line following a 2-1 defeat in the away leg last week.

Despite beating Newcastle 2-0 on Sunday, Arsenal are ninth in the Premier League and well adrift of the qualification places for the Champions League and Europa League.

They must overcome their one-goal deficit against former manager Unai Emery’s team to reach the Europa League final, where they would likely face Manchester United, who hammered Roma 6-2 in their first leg.

Winning the Europa League final in Gdansk on May 26 would automatically qualify the Gunners for the 2021/22 Champions League, despite their poor league position.

Such a scenario would be huge when it comes to the summer transfer window, with Arsenal able to attract new players, as well as keep hold of their biggest stars.

While focus will be on new arrivals in north London, the Gunners have several question marks over their current squad and those who are out on loan.

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One of them is the future of David Luiz, who is out of contract at the end of the season and unsure of his place at Arsenal going forward.

The 34-year-old defender joined the Gunners from Chelsea in the summer of 2019 for a fee in the region of £8million and signed a two-year contract.

He has been a regular fixture in central defence ever since, although injuries have hampered his involvement this season.

The Brazilian defender is currently sidelined with a hamstring injury after undergoing knee surgery in early April, and while Arsenal are hopeful he will return before the end of the season, he could already have played his final game for the club.

That’s because, according to CBS Sports, his representatives have already begun sounding out potential suitors ahead of a summer move.

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The report states that a club in MLS has been sounded out, but Luiz’s salary demands means a move for him is unlikely, even as a designated player, because of the league’s salary cap.

Luiz has also been linked with Italian side Lazio and, although Arteta values his experience, at the moment his future remains uncertain.

One of the reasons Arsenal might be reluctant to offer Luiz a new one-year contract is because of the number of young defenders they have on their books.

Gabriel, Pablo Mari, Rob Holding and Calum Chambers are all at the club currently, while Konstantinos Mavropanos and William Saliba are both earning experience on loan.

CBS Sports reports that Saliba, who joined Arsenal for £27m in 2019 but is yet to feature for the club, will be given the opportunity to earn a place in the side next season following a positive loan spell with French side Nice.

The 20-year-old, who was loaned back to Saint-Etienne after signing for the Gunners, has impressed in 17 appearances since joining Nice in January and will rejoin Arsenal over the summer.

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