Vieira to stay at Arsenal next season

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The Independent Football

The Arsenal midfielder Patrick Vieira yesterday put a definitive end to speculation linking him with a move away from Highbury, and confirmed that he will remain with the new Premiership champions for at least one more year.

The 25-year-old France international has been repeatedly linked with a move to Real Madrid in the summer and was thought to have been frustrated by Arsenal's continued inability to make an impact on the Champions' League. However, the Gunners' Premiership and FA Cup Double appears to have been enough silverware to persuade the player to remain in London for the time being.

"I will definitely stay with Arsenal next season," Vieira said yesterday in Clairefontaine where he is preparing for France's World Cup campaign. "Since 1998, I have progressed a lot both with the French team and Arsenal. I feel more mature thanks to the experience I gained in England. I am very proud about what I have accomplished with the Gunners."

The Liverpool midfielder Danny Murphy said he had no hesitation in agreeing to a new five-year contract with Liverpool before setting off to join the England squad in their preparations for the World Cup finals.

Murphy, who was called up to the England squad after the injury to his Liverpool team-mate Steven Gerrard, is now contracted at Anfield until 2007.

"When there was talk of a new contract there was no hesitation from me," Murphy said. "I always said I would sign a new deal and we were just waiting for the season to be out of the way before sorting things out."

Stuart Pearce has taken his first step towards football management by signing a one-year coaching contract with Manchester City. It is the second signing in the space of 24 hours for the Maine Road manager, Kevin Keegan, who had also brought in the young Danish defender Mikkel Bischoff from AB Copenhagen for £750,000.

City are also trying to sign Independiente's £4m-rated Argentinian striker Matias Vicente Vuoso, but face strong competition for the 20-year-old from the Spanish club Atletico Madrid.

City's fellow Premiership new boys, Birmingham City, are planning a move for Leicester City's fiery midfielder Robbie Savage. The Blues manager, Steve Bruce, is looking for whole-hearted players for the survival struggle ahead after their promotion play-off success – and Savage heads his wanted list.

The Welsh midfielder will be available for around £2.5m, and wants to stay in the Premiership. He has been linked with bigger clubs than Birmingham, namely Everton and Middlesbrough, but the ambition of the St Andrew's side may make them an attractive option.

Birmingham had also considered a move for the Leeds United veteran David Batty, but that may prove too expensive and the Yorkshireman is settled in his home area.

David Ginola has been released by Everton after just three months at Goodison Park. The 35-year-old Frenchman, who joined the Toffees from Aston Villa in February, has failed to make an impression and came on for just one substitute appearance under the new manager, David Moyes. Alec Cleland, who arrived at the club in 1998, has also been released after fewer than 30 starts in an injury-ravaged spell on Merseyside.

Less clear-cut however is the immediate future of the Swede Jesper Blomqvist. The former Manchester United winger is in "ongoing" talks over his future and a decision on whether or not he will be part of Moyes' squad next season is expected to be made in the next 48 hours.

The Everton manager has decided not to sign the Wimbledon goalkeeper Kelvin Davis after a two-day trial. The Leicester goalkeeper Ian Walker may now become a target.

The Football Association has overturned Fulham's £30,000 fine for alleged disorderly conduct in the 21-man brawl in a Premiership match against Everton on 8 December. The FA's appeals board overturned the decision of their disciplinary commission and removed the Cottagers' fine and warning about their future conduct from the club's records.

The incident was sparked by a late tackle by the Everton captain, David Weir, on the Fulham winger Luis Boa Morte, which escalated into a shoving match in which the Fulham striker Barry Hayles kicked Weir, an offence for which he is still awaiting punishment. Weir and Boa Morte were both sent off – although the Fulham player's dismissal was later overturned.

Everton were also fined £25,000 for their part in the bust-up, but they chose to accept their punishment rather than appeal.

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