Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has identified perfect centre-back partner for William Saliba

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Mikel Arteta views Dayot Upamecano as the ideal player to put alongside William Saliba at the heart of Arsenal’s defence next season, according to reports.

Saliba will bolster the Gunners manager’s back-four options when he returns from a season-long loan at Saint-Etienne this summer.

Arsenal paid the Ligue 1 club £27million to sign the highly-rated teenager, who turned 19 this week, almost a year ago.

And Saliba is expected to come straight into Arsenal’s starting eleven when he joins up with his team-mates at London Colney at the end of the season.

But Arteta has also been tipped to make more centre-back signings, with central defence expected to be one of his priorities once the transfer window reopens.

Football.london say that that Arteta sees RB Leipzig’s Upamecano as the ideal man to put alongside Saliba.

The 21-year-old is one of Europe’s most exciting young centre halves and has been a cornerstone of the Leipzig team for the past three years.

The France under-21 international would however set Arsenal back around £50million.

But Arteta is a huge fan of the defender and the Premier League giants have long tracked him, with it having previously been claimed Arsenal had a bid rejected when Unai Emery was the manager.

As it stands, Upamecano will have just one year left on his contract as of July.

Reports in Germany have claimed that the player has rejected the offer of a new contract as Arsenal seek to take advantage of his dream to play in the English top flight.

A lack of Champions League football could prove instrumental, however, putting the pressure on the north London outfit to finish the season strongly if it does resume after the coronavirus pandemic.

Arsenal have been linked to a host of centre halves including Samuel Umtiti, John Stones, Dejan Lovren and Evan Ndicka.

But recruiting Upamecano would be a significant coup for the Gunners, with Barcelona and Bayern Munich also thought to be on his tail.

Speaking last month, the Frenchman said of his future: “First I focus on RB Leipzig and then about what I intend to do. There are clubs that want me.

“I will speak with my agents and my parents at the end of the season and we will make the right decision.”

Back in 2018, however, he was quoted as saying: “When I was younger I dreamed of playing for Real Madrid, Barcelona or Manchester United.

“To get to that level you have to do a lot of work to be recognised and I hope to keep going in the same direction I have been.

“My achievements so far make me proud and I want to keep moving in the same direction – right now I am with Leipzig but hopefully I have a long future ahead of me.”

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