GOAL - Robin Bairner
Saint-Etienne are ready to push until the last minute to allow Arsenal’s William Saliba to play for them in the Coupe de France final against Paris Saint-Germain on July 24.
The centre-back was loaned from the Gunners for the 2019-20 season, which was abridged because of the coronavirus crisis.
Although Ligue 1 may have shut down early, both cup competitions will be played to a conclusion at the end of the month, and Saint-Etienne are hopeful that they will have the youngster available for the Stade de France fixture.
His contract with the French side expired on June 30, but it could be extended until Thursday at midnight, when the domestic transfer window shuts down for a month before resuming in early August.
“We’ll be able to tell you more on Friday at one minute past midnight,” Saint-Etienne head coach Claude Puel told the press ahead of a friendly with Nice on Friday. “We’ll make a comment at that point. Until that time, I cannot say anything. Truthfully, I don’t know what will happen anymore.
“My wish is to have the most competitive team possible. We’ve got until 11:55pm to get the player.”
Highly rated 19-year-old Wesley Fofana would likely partner veteran Loic Perrin at the heart of the defence should the Saliba deal not come to fruition.
Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that the Stade de France will be able to house 5,000 spectators for the match, but Puel regrets that there will be a virtual absence of fans.
“It’s something very strange when you play a football match without supporters,” he said. “If it stays at 5,000, that means 5,000 all inclusive: the players, the staff, the journalists, so when you add it up, it goes very quickly.
“For me, it will be a match without supporters. It means that there will be more people who will be in the entourages of the two teams, but they are not supporters, it is not a support.”
Saint-Etienne have suffered heavily at the hands of Paris Saint-Germain so far this season, going down 4-0 in the only league match the two teams played.
They also crashed to a 6-1 Coupe de la Ligue reverse in early January, though they fielded a virtual reserve side in that encounter due to fixture congestion and injury problems in the early part of the year.