Gallas springs surprise by joining Spurs in one-year deal

Redknapp looks to former Gunner to maintain centre-back strength as Woodgate causes concern
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The Independent Online

William Gallas last night agreed to join Tottenham Hotspur on a one-year contract in one of the shock signings of the transfer window, having already turned down the offer of a new deal at Arsenal.

Gallas, 33, was a free agent after leaving Arsenal in July. When his contract there expired the former France international took a gamble in turning down an £80,000-a-week offer to stay at the Emirates, only to find he could not command nearly as much anywhere else.

A proposed move to Juventus fell through and, with the £80,000-a-week offer taken off the table by Arsenal, Gallas found that he had misjudged the more prudent financial climate in English football. His wages at Spurs are thought to be considerably less than those originally offered by Arsenal.

The player was said to be unconcerned by how he would be regarded by Arsenal supporters. It is the second time in his career that he has moved between rival London clubs. He left Chelsea in 2006 as part of the deal to take Ashley Cole from Arsenal to Stamford Bridge. Then, Gallas suffered a catastrophic fallout with the former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho.

The Spurs manager, Harry Redknapp, regards the central defender as a replacement for Jonathan Woodgate about whom there are serious concerns. The worry is that Woodgate, who has suffered chronic injury problems for the last six years, will be unable to play this season which would leave Spurs short of the four centre-backs Redknapp regards as essential.

With the signing of Gallas, Redknapp also has centre-backs Michael Dawson, Ledley King, Sébastien Bassong and Younes Kaboul. The club expect King's appearances to be restricted by long-term injury problems again this season and Gallas could find himself starting a considerable amount of games alongside Dawson. Redknapp also sees Gallas as cover at left-back.

Meanwhile, the Arsenal manager, Arsène Wenger, looks set to break one of his own golden rules by paying a fee for an outfield player in his thirties after Seville confirmed that Arsenal have had a bid rejected for the 30-year-old French defender Sébastien Squillaci.

The Spanish club value Squillaci at £6.5m and, although they have not accepted the offer from Arsenal, they confirmed that they were in talks. A statement from the club said: "Sébastien Squillaci's future is undecided. As was confirmed by the sporting director, Ramon Rodriguez, at the airport in Porto, the club have received an offer from Arsenal. The player requested that he was not played in the match."

Squillaci had asked his club to be left out of Wednesday night's Champions League qualifier against the Portuguese club Braga in order that he would not not cup-tied for Arsenal. Seville described Arsenal's offer as "insufficient", although they noted the player's request to leave.

It is an intriguing move for Wenger, who has not paid a fee for outfield players over the age of 30 for more than a decade. In 1999 he bought the then 31-year-old Croatia international Davor Suker for around £500,000 from Real Madrid. Mikaël Silvestre joined from Manchester United in 2008 at the age of 31 for around £750,000. Sol Campbell, who rejoined for Arsenal last season at the age of 35, was a free signing.

Wenger's biggest investment in a thirtysomething was Oleg Luzhny, who cost £1.8m from Dynamo Kiev as a 31-year-old. As a rule Wenger does not players in their thirties already on the books contract extensions of any longer than one year. It would be inconceivable that Squillaci, a member of France's World Cup squad, would agree to join for anything less than a three-year deal.

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