Wenger to spend big on De Rossi

Manager targets £30m Roma deal to add steel in Arsenal's midfield
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The Independent Online

Arsene Wenger's preferred midfield target this summer is the Roma and Italy midfielder Daniele De Rossi, and despite the Italian club's reluctance to sell Arsenal have not given up hope that Roma's perilous financial position could force a sale.

Like Liverpool's pursuit of De Rossi's Roma team-mate Alberto Aquilani, the player's future is bound up with the financial problems of the club and the long-term plans of the Sensi family who own it. De Rossi, 26, is regarded as the most important player at the club behind Francisco Totti and is valued at around £30m, which is far in excess of any transfer fee paid by Arsenal in the past.

While De Rossi's reputation in England is not distinguished because of some of Roma's less than impressive Champions League performances in recent years, he is regarded in Italy as one of the country's finest players.

De Rossi is the combative midfielder that Arsenal have lacked since the departure of Mathieu Flamini, albeit a much more sought-after individual than the French player. Wenger has considered him before but regards the valuation placed on him by Roma as unrealistic.

The suggestion that Wenger is prepared to bring his former captain Patrick Vieira back to the club has been privately dismissed, although it would now appear that the Internazionale player has decided against a move to Arsenal's rivals Tottenham.

After an informal approach from Harry Redknapp last month, Vieira had expressed a willingness last month to explore the move but he has since changed his mind. Subsequently, Vieira, 33, had hoped that rather than spoil his reputation as an Arsenal great by joining Tottenham he would like to return to the club where he made his name.

That was communicated to Wenger, who sold the player to Juventus in 2005, but the message that came back to Vieira was that Arsenal were not interested in a deal.

As far as De Rossi's future is concerned, Roma are in crisis after a proposed takeover by the football agent, Vinicio Fioranelli, who was representing a Swiss conglomerate, collapsed last month.

He was to have paid £166m for the Sensi family's controlling 67 per cent stake but since that deal broke down, the Sensi family have found themselves under investigation by regulators of Italy's financial markets.

Efforts are being made to sell some of the team who finished sixth in Serie A last season and beat Chelsea 3-1 at home in the Champions League in November.

The club have suggested that the striker Mirko Vucinic, who scored twice against Chelsea that night, and defender Phillipe Mexès could be allowed to leav,e but parting with De Rossi or Aquilani would be deeply unpopular with fans.

Having sold Emmanuel Adebayor and Kolo Touré to Manchester City, and with Emmanuel Eboué a serious target for Fiorentina, Wenger said yesterday that he was not worried that his squad was depleted.

The Arsenal manager has made just one signing this summer, the £10m purchase of the Ajax centre-back Thomas Vermaelen, 23, who had been scouted by a number of the Premier League's top clubs.

Wenger said yesterday: "I feel we are strong enough, but if we can add we will do it. In England people think that all the problems can be sorted out by buying players. I believe the biggest target is to work hard in training, improve what we can improve and have confidence in the players we have.

"If we need to add then we will. We have money available so for us. It is now [important] to spend it in the right way when we do it or if we do it."

There were further complications in Tomas Rosicky's recovery from injury when it was announced by Arsenal yesterday that the midfielder had picked up another problem in the friendly against Barnet on 18 July. A succession of injuries has meant that the Czech midfielder has not played for 18 months and, with Samir Nasri now injured, his return is crucial to Wenger.

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