Baptista set to stay in Spain and rebuff Spurs and Arsenal

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The Independent Online

"I've come back to work hard and stay at Seville for another season," the 23-year-old said at a news conference at Seville's pre-season training base in Cartaya yesterday. "There has been a lot of interest in me from other clubs but I'm happy here and that has to be taken into account. No one has ever heard me say that I want to leave Seville."

The Seville president, Jose Maria del Nido, has said that Arsenal have offered £13.8m for the Brazil international, while Tottenham have tabled an even higher bid.

Baptista, who is under contract to Seville until 2008, said he had talked to the Arsenal manager, Arsène Wenger, but denied he had signed any agreement. "We had a quick chat just to introduce ourselves and nothing more," he said. He added that he would be reluctant to move to England because he had the chance to qualify for Spanish citizenship.

"I'm well adapted to the Spanish league and it would be difficult to make the change to another type of football," he said. "In August I will have all the papers to become a Spanish citizen and so I will no longer count as a foreign player and that is very important."

Baptista joined Seville from São Paulo in July 2003 for £1.6m, and was converted by their coach, Joaquin Caparros, from a midfielder into a forward. He made an immediate impact, earning the sobriquet "La Bestia" (the Beast) for his rampaging forward runs. He ended his first season as leading scorer with 20 league goals, and last term he hit 18 goals to help Seville to sixth place in the Primera Liga.

Del Nido said that the player was in a difficult position. "Julio will not create any problems because he is not that sort of person. Until something happens to the contrary he will remain a Seville player."

o The Greek champions, Olympiakos, have signed Espanyol's Belgium goalkeeper Erwin Lemmens on a two-year contract. Lemmens, 29, is expected to travel to Austria next Tuesday to join his new team-mates at their pre-season training camp. Lemmens joined on Monday as a free agent.

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