Wenger plays down idea of signing old-boy Vieira

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The Independent Online

Arsene Wenger played down the prospect of signing his former captain Patrick Vieira yesterday and defended his decision to sell Emmanuel Adebayor and Kolo Touré to Manchester City. The Arsenal manager said he could not choose where a player should go, even if it was to a club expected to challenge for the Champions League places.

The suggestion that Vieira might return four years after he left the club was politely put to one side by Wenger. The prospect of a return to Arsenal has been pushed hard by Vieira's camp after the player decided against a move to Tottenham, but Wenger is still unconvinced.

On Vieira, Wenger said: "There is a football decision and there's a psychological impact on a player of that stature that could come in. But at the moment we need to look at the level of experience in your squad to make this kind of decision. But we are nowhere near to making a decision like that. We don't rule it out and we don't say we will do it and that's my decision at the moment.

"I speak to Patrick, I speak to many players who have been here because I keep good connections with them. He has gone through a difficult period as well in the last season. I am aware that he wants to come here. I think Patrick is a legend here and he would always like to come back to this club."

Wenger has looked into the possibility of signing Daniele de Rossi from Roma, although the midfielder is likely to be priced out of Arsenal's reach. He has also had contact with the St Etienne midfielder Blaise Matuidi but yesterday he once again said that he would not be forced into paying inflated transfer prices. As for Adebayor and Touré, he admitted it was a "difficult decision" but said that he could not choose where they went.

"I always say when you come to the decision to sell a player you can't then choose who you want to sell them to," he said. "If they [City] are becoming a main rival I cannot stop that with a decision to sell a player or not."

He said that the club had told him that he would be able to reinvest the £40m City paid in the squad, however he sounded no closer to making major investments. "We have developed a style that everybody accepts so I feel confident and very strong," he said. "Our focus should not be who can help us from outside but who can help us from inside.

"Football acts as if recession is not on the board but I believe we will be hit much harder than we expected. They don't reflect the actual financial and economic situation of the clubs. We have to be very cautious and on that front football in England is not cautious enough."

Arsenal play Atletico Madrid this afternoon in the pre-season Emirates Cup and Rangers tomorrow.

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