'I considered leaving Arsenal', Vieira admits

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The Independent Football

Patrick Vieira has admitted that he "seriously considered" leaving Arsenal this summer because of interest from some of Europe's biggest clubs.

The 25-year-old, currently in France with his national side for their friendly international against Denmark, was courted by Manchester United, Juventus and Real Madrid.

"I seriously considered leaving Arsenal; the interested clubs were great ones," Arsenal's new vice-captain told the French paper L'Equipe. "But I've never met any of these clubs' managers on a one-to-one basis. And if I've finally decided to stay, it's because I'm convinced that Arsenal and I can reach new heights together. We have what it takes to go very far in the Champions' League. We can win the Premiership."

Arsenal have finished second in the Premiership, behind Manchester United, in the past three seasons.

The Frenchman dismissed reports published in the Sun at the end of June quoting him as saying that he wanted a fresh challenge and to leave Arsenal because the team was not good enough.

"This was invented from A to Z," he said. "I don't know who did it but I can assure you that I'm still looking."

"When that interview was published I was on holiday in Las Vegas and Miami and, of course, I never spoke to a journalist from that paper. Someone pretended it was me or one of my relatives, and these absurd comments were then taken by other newspapers, agencies or web sites who never check anything.

"After I found out about this interview I called [the Arsenal manager] Arsène Wenger and sorted out everything."

The agent of Nwankwo Kanu, Frank Sedoc, has dismissed reports the Arsenal striker could be on his way to join Fulham in a £10m deal.

"There is no chance of Kanu moving before the start of the season and he has already said he is not unhappy," Sedoc said.

Coverage of next year's World Cup on the BBC and ITV was enveloped in controversy yesterday after the German rights holders appealed to UK competition authorities about the sale of the tournament's television broadcasts.

Prisma, owned by German media mogul Leo Kirch, has written to the Office of Fair Trading to complain that the BBC and ITV are acting as a cartel by negotiating together for live UK broadcasting rights to all the 2002 matches.

Sources close to the broadcasters said they tabled a bid of around £60m for the World Cup rights in April but Prisma has been holding out for £170m for the UK rights after paying £820m for the global TV rights.

Should the OFT find the BBC and ITV guilty of collusion, it could fine the broadcasters up to 10 per cent of their annual turnover ­ or around £450m.

But that outcome is thought unlikely as government legislation requires that all World Cup games be available to terrestrial television broadcasters.

Portsmouth have secured a work permit for the Croatian midfielder Robert Prosinecki after an appeal. The three-man commission from the Department of Employment granted the permit for the 32-year-old, who has played for Spanish giants Real Madrid, Barcelona and Seville among others in an up and down career.

Prosinecki, who played for Croatia at the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000, could now make his debut for Pompey against Bradford on Saturday ­ provided his registration is completed in time.

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