Arsenal have reached an agreement in principle with Saint-Etienne to sign defender William Saliba, according to Sky Sports News

The deal will see Saliba return to the Ligue 1 side on loan next season.

It is understood Tottenham had been in talks with the French side but never made a formal bid for the player.

The 18-year-old made 17 appearances for Saint-Etienne last season and was included in the French squad for the U20 World Cup during the summer.

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Earlier this week Arsenal manager Unai Emery insisted the club were targeting “very big, very expensive” deals in the transfer market.

Arsenal continue to work on deals for Real Madrid midfielder Dani Ceballos, who would join on a season-long loan, and Celtic left-back Kieran Tierney.

It is understood that the club are increasingly confident they can get both over the line.

Arsenal head coach Unai Emery has admitted that defender Laurent Koscielny may be set to leave the cub.

The France international defender refused to join the pre-season tour and wants to be allowed to return to France.

His departure would leave something of a leadership vacuum but Emery says he sees defender Rob Holding as one of his potential captains.

Ahead of Saturday’s game against Fiorentina in LA, Emery said: “I want one English player in these five captains.

“Last year (Granit) Xhaka, Mesut (Ozil) and Nacho (Monreal) were working as captains.

“But after Aaron Ramsey and Petr Cech left – and possibly Laurent Koscielny – I will want more.

“An English player who grew up in our academy can understand the English spirit and Arsenal values.

“We lost some players with big experience and a long time in England and Arsenal like Cech and Ramsey.

“We lost Koscielny too. They started one day being captain, when they were young.”

Holding was impressing at the heart of the Arsenal defence last season – only to suffer a serious injury against Manchester United in December.

He has not played since but appears to be closing in on a return and Emery said: “We are really happy with his (Holding’s) progress.

“We need his performances as a centre back. [Before] he had his injury, he was really playing with big performances.”

Meanwhile, Arsenal are looking to bolster their long term centre back options, and have reached an agreement in principle with Saint-Etienne to sign William Saliba.

The deal will see Saliba return to the Ligue 1 side on loan next season.

Arsenal are increasingly confident of agreeing deals to bring Dani Ceballos and Kieran Tierney to the Emirates this summer, Dharmesh Sheth has told The Transfer Show.

Celtic are understood to have rejected two bids from Arsenal for Scotland left-back Tierney – the latest of which was worth £25m – and, according to Hoops manager Neil Lennon, they are yet to go back in with an improved offer.

The Scottish champions are understood to be unhappy with the structure of the proposed deal because they want more money up front.

Meanwhile, Arsenal are trying to get Ceballos, the Spain U21 midfielder, on loan from Real Madrid but are waiting on the approval of head coach Zinedine Zidane.

“I’m led to believe there’s growing confidence Arsenal can get the deals for Real Madrid midfielder Dani Ceballos and Celtic left-back Kieran Tierney over the line,” the Sky Sports News reporter told The Transfer Show.

“Tierney on a permanent deal if they can sort out the structure of payment. Ceballos on loan because he sees his long-term future at Real Madrid, but he wants to get more game time now to impress Zinedine Zidane.”

Celtic manager Lennon is insistent the Scottish champions will not be forced into selling Tierney this summer unless a suitable offer arrives, citing the projected £50m Manchester United paid for right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka.

He said: “We can’t do anything about what clubs do in England.

“£50m for Wan-Bissaka is a lot of money and we feel that Kieran is a far more experienced and rounded full-back at this juncture in his career.”

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