Bergkamp poised to agree new contract

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The Independent Football
Arsene Wenger last night said he expected to have agreed a new contract with Dennis Bergkamp before the end of December. Arsenal have been negotiating with the Dutch striker for months but Wenger quashed suggestions that they would fail to agree a deal when he said: "It will be solved before the end of the year.</p>He added: "It is very important for him and for us to get him concentrating purely on the game. The delay has not been about money, Dennis is not money-obsessed. We could not meet his lawyer. We were both busy."</p>Wenger also indicated the delay was not due to Bergkamp seeking guarantees about his place. The 31-year-old has been unhappy at being both on the bench and played out of position. Wenger said: "I have so many good strikers it is one solution. It was worth trying. You can only play two strikers in attack, when we played three it never worked." Bergkamp has begun only 11 of Arsenal's 24 games this year due to a combination of niggling injuries, his reluctance to travel in Europe, and the growing success of Nwankwo Kanu's partnership with Thierry Henry.</p>Bobby Robson, the Newcastle manager, would love Wenger's problem. His club have scored twice in 200 minutes' action and, after the Magpies' 5-0 defeat at Arsenal on Saturday, he revealed that Alan Shearer could need an operation that would put him out of action for 12 weeks.</p>Robson said: "He has already had two steroid injections in his knee. If the next one doesn't work, he will need an operation. You cannot keep putting steroids into the same area."</p>Robson, who has Carl Cort and Kevin Gallacher injured and sold Duncan Ferguson earlier this season, has had a request for spending money turned down by the Newcastle board. It is awaiting a verdict on the future of the transfer market.</p>