Dacourt next on Arsenal's wish-list

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The Independent Online

The reports in France suggested that the Gunners are in advanced talks with representatives of Dacourt, whose contract with Roma has a year to run.

It is not the first time the Arsenal manager, Arsène Wenger, has tried to bring the combative midfielder to Highbury. After the 1998-99 season with Everton, Dacourt returned to France with Lens ahead of Arsenal before joining Leeds United the following year.

After he played in the Champions' League semi-finals with Leeds, Arsenal made fresh inquiries before going for the cheaper option of Gilberto Silva. Now, given Roma's fragile financial state, Dacourt could be allowed to go for free.

In Spain, the Seville coach Juande Ramos said he wants the future of Brazilian forward Julio Baptista to be resolved as soon as possible so that he can get on with planning for next season.

"Baptista is a pivotal player for Sevilla," he said. "Every coach wants to have the best footballers in his side. We all want him to stay at the club, but we all know what situation he is in and we are going to have to wait and see what happens.

"There is a very strong chance that he will stay. He appears to want to stay and the club wants the same, and unless there is a sky-high offer for him he will continue playing for us."

Baptista appeared to rule out a move when he returned to the club earlier this week saying he wanted to acquire Spanish citizenship. The Seville president Jose Maria del Nido said last week that he had turned down an offer of €20m (£13.8m) from Arsenal for the Brazil international who has scored 38 goals in the last two seasons and is under contract until 2008.

The fact that Seville have an excess of non-European Union players in the squad at present could also force them to sell one of their foreign players. Under Spanish Football Federation rules La Liga clubs are permitted only three non-EU players on their books.

Arsenal have ruled out a move for Real Madrid midfielder Guti. Wenger said, "I am not looking at Guti at all. I cannot say any more about it. It is either yes or no and in this case it is no."

Robert Pires, meanwhile, has been told not to expect an improved contract offer now that Vieira has left. The Frenchman, who would be free to leave next summer on a Bosman, has expressed his frustration that the club have only offered him a one-year contract extension.

He is looking for a two-year deal to secure his future through to 2008 and there has been speculation that he might now get it in the wake of Vieira's move to Juventus.

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