Arsenal have agreed a fee of around £26million with Saint-Etienne for centre back William Saliba.
The French club are keen to keep the 18-year-old on loan for another season.
Saliba made 16 appearances during his debut Ligue 1 campaign after breaking into the first-team in late September.
Despite Arsenal’s defensive troubles last season — they kept just one Premier League clean sheet away from home — it is unlikely that Saliba would be a regular starter under Unai Emery this season.
A season-long loan back to St Etienne could therefore suit all parties.
Saint-Etienne president Roland Romeyer has claimed that the player is keen to spend another year at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard.
And if Arsenal do loan the teenager back to Saint-Etienne it could give them extra flexibility in the transfer market this summer.
They may delay paying the majority of the fee until next year, giving them more to spend on other targets.
Arsenal have already had one bid of £40m turned down by Crystal Palace for Ivory Coast forward Wilfried Zaha, who is Emery’s No 1 attacking target.
Zaha is currently at the Africa Cup of Nations and scored a winner in a 1-0 victory over Mali in the round of 16 on Monday night.