Arsenal keen to accept Gallas plus cash for Cole

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Arsenal have made a £5m offer for Chelsea's William Gallas, Arsène Wenger, the Arsenal manager, confirmed yesterday. The deal does not currently involve Arsenal's left-back Ashley Cole, who is the subject of a bid from Chelsea, although Wenger did not dismiss the possibility of a player swap plus cash deal.

Cole, who was left out of the squad for Saturday's 1-1 draw with Aston Villa, has also been omitted from the squad for tonight's Champions' League third qualifying round second-leg tie against Dynamo Zagreb at the Emirates Stadium.

The new stadium could yet become a home for Gallas. The French defender is unhappy at Chelsea and might welcome a move across London even if it means taking a salary cut.

"He [Gallas] is a good defender. We want the player and we have made an offer for him," Wenger said. "At the moment we have to keep the negotiations quiet, but we have not spoken to the player yet and we have a salary cap here and he comes from a club with no salary cap. But we have to agree with Chelsea first and then we have to agree personal terms."

For the 29-year-old, the attractiveness of such a move are evident: guaranteed first-team football in his favourite position, centre-back, and to be reunited with his friend Thierry Henry - the pair have known each other since they were 13.

Bringing Gallas into the equation may revive the transfer of Cole to Chelsea. The champions are still refusing to meet Arsenal's £25m valuation and Wenger described the situation as being in "no-man's land".

A player swap plus cash deal could still end the stalemate. "We have a chance to get the player because he wants to leave Chelsea and Ashley wants to leave Arsenal," Wenger said.

With the Cole and Gallas transfers dominating the headlines, it has been easy to overlook the fact that there is a football match tonight - qualifying is worth almost £20m. Has the Cole saga damaged Wenger's preparations? "Not damaged but not helping," Wenger said.

Arsenal face a Zagreb side that must overturn a 3-0 deficit from the first leg. That may give Arsenal's youngsters the opportunity to explore the stadium's open spaces, especially on the counter-attack.

One player who will have to wait, however, is Theo Walcott. Despite the 17-year-old's late cameo on Saturday, the striker is likely to start on the bench. Also on the bench will be Henry, who is still not fully fit to play in consecutive games.

Therefore, Wenger is poised to pick 10 of the starting line-up that played in the first leg in Zagreb, with Fredrik Ljungberg replacing Tomas Rosicky. A groin injury will prevent the Czech Republic midfielder Rosicky from making his Emirates Stadium debut.

The Arsenal goalkeeper Jens Lehmann is also still out of action after injury his knee in training.

Arsenal (probable, 4-4-2): Almunia; Eboué, Touré, Djourou, Hoyte; Hleb, Fabregas, Gilberto, Ljungberg; Van Persie, Adebayor.

Dynamo Zagreb (probable, 4-3-3): Turina; Corluka, Cvitanovic, Santos Carlos, Cale; Buyat, Mamic, Etto; Modric, Eduardo, Ljubojevic.

Referee: B Layec (France).

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