Wenger aims for one more signing before the deadline

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The Independent Football

Arsène Wenger, the Arsenal manager, said yesterday that he intended to buy one more player, a defender, before the 31 August transfer deadline but insisted that Ashley Cole would take no part in his side's first game of the season against Aston Villa at the Emirates Stadium today.

Wenger has been widely linked with West Bromwich Albion's Curtis Davies, but offered few clues saying he is not looking for a big name but an "experienced" defender who can play either centre-back or left-back. He added that he wanted to make the signing regardless of whether Cole makes the move across London, or not.

The manager said: "I have a policy I decided two or three years [ago]. If you bring in names then the young players have no chance. You give them a taste of the top level and then you close it down. I want to get the right balance without killing the chance for our young players."

Cole has been given permission to leave and has spoken to Chelsea. He has been left out because Wenger cannot rely on a player who could be transferred out at any moment, thereby disrupting his preparations for the first League game of the season.

"I could put him in the squad and he could be sold," Wenger said last night. "So I do not want to be confronted with that situation."

Wenger insisted that he thought Cole would still stay. "At the moment it doesn't look like [the deal will be completed]. The transfer period started in June. We are at the end of August and still nothing has happened so why should it now?The official reasons are not always the real ones."

Cole had earlier issued a statement saying he was available to be picked this weekend, explaining that he had not argued with Wenger. "I have no problem with the fans and the manager," Cole said. "They have both been very supportive of me throughout my career."

Wenger is also offering support to Jose Antonio Reyes, who will definitely be staying at Arsenal. Wenger yesterday dismissed speculation that the Spaniard would join Real Madrid describing their interest as a "complete bluff". He criticised the tactics adopted by the Madrid club in chasing the 22-year-old winger, who Wenger admitted was very unsettled.

"They unsettle the player, then they come in with no offer at all. It [the speculation] has affected him very badly," Wenger said. "Not only him but you have players who are destabilised. In the end you cannot even make a choice of do we sell him or not because there is nothing to sell for. There are some things you can understand but they are more difficult to accept. From a big club like Real Madrid you do not expect them to unsettle the player and say, 'Sorry we have no money, not one penny to spend on him'."

Reyes is one of seven first-team players missing from today's home game. He has a groin problem, as does Arsenal's new £6.8m signing, Tomas Rosicky.

* Arsenal's 19-year-old striker, Arturo Lupoli, has joined Derby County on a season-long loan.