Arsenal target Baptista likely to stay in Spain
Thursday 07 July 2005
In recent weeks the Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger flew to São Paolo to meet Baptista while the vice-chairman David Dein has been in Spain to negotiate the transfer. But Baptista, a powerful striker who has scored 50 goals for Seville, does not have the qualifications necessary for him to move to England.
He has just 11 caps for Brazil but it had been thought that because of their ranking in world football he would qualify for a permit. The player's camp now believe that is not likely.
The situation will change in December, when he qualifies for Spanish, and therefore European Union, citizenship and it may be that Arsenal will be able to move for the player in the January transfer window or next summer. However, they are likely to face stiff competition as both Barcelona and Real Madrid are also tracking the player and he is believed to favour remaining in Spain.
The developments will come as a blow to Arsenal especially as Seville, despite rejecting their initial offer, describing it as "derisory", know that Baptista - a converted midfielder who joined two years ago from São Paolo - is refusing to sign a contract extension. He is currently tied to the club until 2008 but contractual law in Spain states that players can negotiate a move once they have completed three seasons at a club with a fee being set by a tribunal. That means that Seville could lose him in 12 months' time for a considerably lower fee than they could recoup this summer. They have already signed another Brazilian, Luis Fabiano, as his replacement.
It is believed Arsenal themselves may receive an unwanted approach this week. Juventus are considering following up their public declaration of interest in Patrick Vieira with an offer of €20m (£14m). That will, undoubtedly, be immediately and decisively dismissed by Arsenal, even if Juventus are understood to regard it as a fair price for a player who is 28 and who is out-of-contract in two years' time.
Another Arsenal midfielder, David Bentley, has been told to report back for pre-season training following his season-long loan with Norwich City.
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