Wenger ready to sign Highbury contract

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The Independent Online

The Arsenal manager, Arsène Wenger, is expected to end speculation over his future by signing a new contract before the start of the Premiership season next weekend.

The Arsenal manager, Arsène Wenger, is expected to end speculation over his future by signing a new contract before the start of the Premiership season next weekend.

Wenger, who admitted he received offers from other clubs, insisted that there were "no major obstacles" to him signing a new deal at Highbury to end what is rapidly becoming a long-running saga. "I have not signed it yet. I think I will do so but I can't tell you that I have," he said. "My decision will be made next week. I have always said that it would be sorted out before the season starts.

"I've read that the club have told me 'sign or leave' but that's not the way we talk to each other at all. We prefer open and positive discussion."

Wenger also revealed that Silvinho, the Brazilian left back, will sign for a new club before the weekend is past. "I don't know which one, but I can tell you he's in Brazil," he said. "In my mind, he has already left the club."

Aston Villa have moved a step closer to signing the Croatia international striker Bosko Balaban after agreeing a fee of £6m with his club, Dinamo Zagreb. The 22-year-old, with six goals in seven international appearances, hopes to agree terms and secure a work permit in time to make his debut in next Saturday's Premiership opener at at Tottenham.

The Leeds United central defender Lucas Radebe is doubtful for the start of the season after injuring his right knee in training. The South African international, who lost the captaincy to Rio Ferdinand last week, had surgery on both knees last season and missed the last 11 matches.

The Toulouse striker Marc Libbra has joined Norwich City on a free transfer. The Frenchman has been training with the Canaries for the past month while waiting for the deal to be completed.

Norwich had agreed a fee with Toulouse of around £500,000, but the French Football Federation ruled that because the club had gone into administration the contracts of all their players were void and Libbra was a free agent.

Paris St-Germain's Sylvain Distin and Pierre Ducrocq have been told they are no longer needed by the club and can both move to England. Distin, a central defender, is reportedly the subject of a £4m bid from Bolton, while the midfielder Ducrocq is currently in London for a trial with West Ham and could sign a contract next week.

The former Labour party leader Michael Foot has joined Plymouth Argyle's board of directors. The 88-year-old's appointment at the club he has supported since the 1920s was made on the same day the Pilgrims' chairman and majority shareholder, Dan McCauley, announced he was stepping down as chairman.

The new Argyle chairman is Paul Stapleton, a director at the Devon club since 1998, while another director, Peter Jones, is promoted to vice-chairman. McCauley is to remain on the board.

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