Wenger resumes clearance by sending Senderos to Milan

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The Independent Online

The Arsenal defender Philippe Senderos yesterday agreed to a one-year loan deal at Milan as Arsène Wenger's remarkable clear-out continued. The Swiss defender has been told that he is now behind new signing Mikaël Silvestre in the defensive pecking order and will leave on a permanent deal if his season in Serie A is a success.

Senderos, 23, has always struggled to force his way into the first team ahead of William Gallas and Kolo Touré – and Sol Campbell before then – but even so, the loss of another first team player shows just how confident the Arsenal manager is in his squad. Before he signed Silvestre, Wenger had been linked with a move for the Arsenal old-boy Matthew Upson, however, with Silvestre and Johan Djourou, and his first-choice pairing, he now has four international centre-halves.

Senderos becomes the seventh first-team squad player to leave Arsenal either on a loan or a permanent deal this summer after Mathieu Flamini, Jens Lehmann, Gilberto Silva, Alexander Hleb, Justin Hoyte and Armand Traoré. It is one of the few occasions when Wenger has been prepared to dispense with a younger player that he brought through at the club in favour of an older player – Silvestre who is 31 – at the end of his career.

Senderos will also find it difficult to establish himself in Milan, where he will be reunited with his former team-mate Flamini. When all his defenders are fit, Carlo Ancelotti is unlikely to deviate from his preferred central partnership of Alessandro Nesta and Kakha Kaladze.

The defender was a highly-prized junior player whom Arsenal signed despite strong interest from Manchester United and Liverpool in 2002. However, he has never been able to shake off a reputation for unreliability against the very top opposition. Senderos has made 115 appearances for Arsenal but only really established himself as a first-team regular in the second half of the 2005-06 season.

Wenger, whose side play the second leg of their Champions League qualifier against FC Twente tomorrow, is understood to have continued his interest in Xabi Alonso. The Liverpool midfielder would be cup-tied for the first part of the competition but that has not deterred Arsenal, who value him at around £10m. Liverpool want a fee of £15m.

Much will depend on how Arsenal and Liverpool, who play the second leg of their Champions League qualifier against Standard Liège tomorrow, fare in the competition's group stage draw on Thursday – providing they both qualify. Should Liverpool face a difficult draw, it is thought that they would be minded to hang on to Alonso.

After their defeat to Fulham on Saturday, Arsenal were accused by their former player Lee Dixon of lacking leadership. The former England international, speaking on Match of the Day 2, said: "I spoke to Tony Adams at the game and I said to him 'Where is the leadership coming from in this team?' It's certainly not coming from William Gallas the captain."

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