Arsenal set to hijack Man United’s move for £26m-rated Ligue 1 defender

According to the French media outlets, Manchester United have been dealt transfer blow in race for Saint-Etienne defender William Saliba, as Arsenal could wrap up a deal to sign talented youngster in the coming weeks.

Saliba broke into Saint-Etienne’s first-team in September and the 18-year-old had an outstanding debut season, helping Jean-Louis Gasset’s side to a fourth-place finish in Ligue 1.

Both Arsenal and Manchester United have registered a strong interest in Saliba and the centre-back is open to making the step up to the Premier League this summer.

Saliba’s agent hinted that the youngster could be on his way to Old Trafford after he was spotted in Manchester at the weekend, but it appears Arsenal are now favourites to win the transfer race.

Le 10 Sport claims the Gunners are in advanced discussions with all parties and talks are progressing so well that it’s possible an agreement will be reached in the ‘coming weeks’ for the France Under-19 international.

Saint-Etienne have requested that Saliba returns to them on loan next season, but Emery is not prepared to wait another year for defensive reinforcements after Arsenal shipped 51 goals in the Premier League.

It’s understood Saint-Etienne have slapped a €30million (£26m) price tag on Saliba, with Watford and Southampton also interested in the teenager.