Arsenal's Flamini set for Milan as Hleb mulls Inter move

Mathieu Flamini has dashed Arsenal's faint hopes of keeping him by agreeing to join Milan, while the Premier League club face a crunch meeting over Alexander Hleb's future later this week.

The signs are that Arsene Wenger will be shorn of half his first-choice midfield - and two of his best performers this season - with Hleb having been offered a huge four-year contract by Internazionale, Milan's city's rivals, which he is keen to sign.

The loss of the pair would be a severe blow to Wenger who has set Flamini a deadline of the end of this month to decide his future after making what he described as a "decent" improved offer. The 24-year-old French midfielder's present contract runs out on 30 June and, despite Arsenal's efforts, he has been offered far more by Milan and Juventus.

It had appeared that Juve were the favourites to sign Flamini but they have been out-bid by Milan who are willing to pay him four million euros a year - a million more than was an offer from their rivals - which includes a significant signing-on fee spread over a five-year contract. They have ear-marked Flamini as the eventual replacement for Gennaro Gattuso - which is ironic considering the midfielder was nicknamed after the Italian by his Arsenal team-mates.

Over the weekend Carlo Ancelotti went public on Milan TV - the club's own television channel - to speak of his admiration for Flamini, especially after the way he performed against the European Cup holders in the Champions League tie earlier this season. Flamini - whose father Roland is Italian and has relatives in Rome - is free to talk to other clubs because his contract has almost expired. He has made clear that he wants to accept a more lucrative offer than has been tabled by Arsenal, especially as Flamini has felt under-valued at the Emirates for some time. Wenger has urged Flamini not to leave Arsenal just for a "few bucks" but that kind of comment will not be well-received by his player.

Hleb, who is 27 next month, has been offered an impressive four-year deal by Inter, but will hold talks with Arsenal this week. He is understood to be concerned that, after so much promise this season, it is now the third campaign in a row that Arsenal have failed to win a trophy. Much to Wenger's annoyance, the Italian champions have openly declared their interest in the Belarussian who joined Arsenal from Stuttgart in July 2005. He has two years left on his present deal but article 17 of FIFA regulations would allow him to leave for a fixed fee, likely to be significantly less than the £11.2m Arsenal paid for him.

The situation presents Wenger with a major headache. His team face bottom club Derby County away tonight with Flamini a doubt because he has not fully recovered from an ankle injury. Wenger may have a league debut to goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski who, he said, will vie with Manuel Almunia for the club's number one slot next season.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine