Arsenal sign Diaby to fit Vieira mould

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The Independent Football

Arsenal have signed the promising 19-year-old French midfielder Vasiriki Abou Diaby for about £2m. An official announcement is expected today.

Diaby's current club, Auxerre, claimed last night that the player had agreed to move to Arsenal in preference to a number of other suitors. They hope, however, that he will be allowed to remain with them until the end of the season.

The Auxerre vice-president Gerard Bourgoin said: "The player has made the choice for Arsenal. And Auxerre, who do not like ruining the careers of our players, have reached an agreement with the club."

Diaby, a tall, powerful midfielder in the mould of Patrick Vieira, has excelled for the French Under-19 side, although he has made just three first-team league starts this season for Auxerre, now managed by Jacques Santini. He is understood to have agreed a four-year deal with Arsenal, becoming the club's first signing in the January transfer window.

Arsène Wenger is now expected to step up his efforts to bring in a striker and is monitoring developments with Monaco's out-of-favour, £5m-rated, 6ft 3in, Togalese international Emmanuel Adebayor. The Arsenal manager is also likely to bid for Southampton's 16-year-old Theo Walcott.

* Robinho scored twice either side of goals by Sergio Ramos and Soldado last night as Real Madrid won their second-leg match 4-0 in the last 16 of the King's Cup against Athletic Bilbao. Real brought a 1-0 advantage to the Bernabeu after David Beckham's goal in the first leg last week.

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