Wenger: No Real deal for Vieira

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The Independent Football

Arsene Wenger insisted yesterday that he has no "gentleman's agreement" with Patrick Vieira that would allow the Frenchman to join Real Madrid this summer.

The Arsenal manager has already stated that the club would resist even a world-record bid of £50 million for the 25-year-old midfielder. However, reports emerged last weekend suggesting that Vieira believes he reached a verbal agreement with Wenger last close-season that would allow him to leave the club this summer.

Vieira has yet to comment on these claims, which appeared in the wake of his trip to Madrid on a day off last week. However, Wenger said: "This week, Patrick still plays for us. It just shows the imagination of English people is still great, which is quite positive for the nation. I can't say any more. There is no agreement between us."

Real last week wrote to Arsenal saying that they had not held any talks with Vieira or his agents, but the midfielder is still understood to be on their list of potential transfer targets.

This has led to Arsenal being linked with a possible £13m move for PSV Eindhoven's Dutch international midfielder Mark van Bommel as Vieira's supposed replacement.

Wenger responded: "I rate Van Bommel highly but we are not in the market at all for anybody. We know him well but at the moment we don't buy anybody. I'm very happy with the squad that I have and I've said that many times. We won't go out and buy."

As his side prepared to face Leicester tonight, Wenger admitted he enjoys watching the kind of physical battle that was waged between Martin Keown and Mark Viduka last Sunday as he tipped the Arsenal defender to make England's World Cup squad.

Wenger believes Keown embodies the battling spirit needed by his Arsenal side in the title race, especially as he expects a physical confrontation at Leicester. Keown was named man of the match at Elland Road after the 1-1 draw last Sunday following a constant physical battle with Viduka, who appeared to elbow him in the head at one point. The Football Association will look into that incident, just as they did when Keown was found guilty of elbowing Viduka last season.

However, Wenger denied there is personal animosity between the two players. "I like to see these kind of fights where both are going for it," he said. "Where it goes overboard, the referee has to react and punish."