Pires move rests on Vieira

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Valencia are hoping to take advantage of the unrest surrounding the Arsenal midfielder Patrick Vieira by prising his French international colleague Robert Pires from Highbury.

Valencia are hoping to take advantage of the unrest surrounding the Arsenal midfielder Patrick Vieira by prising his French international colleague Robert Pires from Highbury.

Vieira is the subject of speculation concerning his future with the Londoners and has been linked with moves to Manchester United and Juventus. And Pires, who has been approached by the European Cup finalists Valencia, admits that his future will be influenced by what happens with Vieira, the Premiership Player of the Year. "If you receive an offer from Valencia, then you obliged to take it seriously, that is certain," Pires said in Le Parisien. "The future of Patrick Vieira at Arsenal will be the determining factor in my decision. The whole situation revolves around that."

Valencia are eyeing Pires as a potential replacement for the Argentinian Kily Gonzalez, who wants to leave. With Real Madrid also rumoured to be closely watching the midfielder Gaizka Mendieta, Pires's versatility could be just what the Spanish side are looking for.

Vieira, upset that the club sold Marc Overmars and his midfield companion Emmanuel Petit to Barcelona last season, has issued the club with an ultimatum to improve the squad or lose him after a second successive trophy-less season. Pires, 27, came within a whisker of joining Real Madrid last summer before signing for Arsenal as a replacement for Overmars.

And he believes the former Milan powerhouse Vieira must be kept at all costs. "Arsenal cannot let his services go," Pires explained. "That would signify a lack of ambition. He is a great person, he has the same generosity on the pitch as off it. I love playing alongside him in the midfield, he never lets you down."

* Plans for Arsenal's new stadium at Ashburton Grove, Holloway, north London, and proposals for development of their current home will go on public display in the south stand at Highbury from 15 to 21 June. Following consultation with the local community as well as Islington Council and other organisations, a revised planning application was submitted earlier this month, which should be considered by October. If planning permission is approved, then initial work on the new stadium is planned to begin in the middle of next year.

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