Arsenal plotting transfer bid for £25m Man Utd target after Jose Mourinho praise

Arsenal are reportedly preparing to do battle with Manchester United for Saint-Etienne star William Saliba in the summer transfer window.

Saliba, 18, has had an outstanding debut season in France, making 17 appearances since breaking into Jean-Louis Gasset’s first-team, and the defender’s accomplished performances have caught the attention of the Premier League’s elite.

United have been credited with a strong interest in Saliba and, according to Goal, Arsenal have been keeping close tabs on the teenage centre-back all season.

The report claims that Arsenal are convinced by Saliba’s potential and have been impressed with the level of his maturity for such a young player.

Unai Emery will have just £40 million to spend on reinforcements this summer if the Gunners fail to qualify for the Champions League by beating Chelsea in the Europa League final.

The Spaniard will prioritise signing a top-class central defender and Saliba has emerged as the club’s top target in this position.

Jose Mourinho showered Saliba with praise last week amid rumours that his former club, United, were interested in the France Under-19 international.

‘I think he has everything needed to become a good player, much like Kurt Zouma, who I signed,’ Mourinho said.

Saliba signed a long-term contract with Saint-Etienne last month, with the Ligue 1 outfit anticipating offers for the youngster this summer.

Speaking about his contract extension, Saliba said: ‘I am very happy to extend my adventure with Saint-Etienne, the club where I came up from as a youngster.

‘I want to thank all my youth coaches and everyone who has contributed to my progression at this club.’

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