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Mourinho returns to Stamford Bridge

50-50 Challenge
By ESPN Staff

Auxerre chief claims Wenger swung Diaby deal

Auxerre vice-president Gerard Bourgoin has revealed young midfielder Vasiriki Abou Diaby visited both Arsenal and Chelsea before deciding to join Arsene Wenger's side.

The 19-year-old looks set to sign for the Gunners in a deal believed to be worth around £2million after the French club revealed they had agreed to the sale on Thursday.

Bourgoin told L'Equipe Diaby spent Wednesday in London meeting officials from Arsenal and Chelsea, with Wenger proving the decisive factor.

'The choice belonged to Diaby, but Wenger was better than (Jose) Mourinho, that's all,' Bourgoin said.

Diaby has made only six league appearances and played twice in the UEFA Cup for Auxerre this season due to a niggling injury.

Bourgoin claimed Diaby was being sold as he is surplus to requirements at the Abbe-Deschamps.

'We have always kept the young players which our coach wanted to use,' he said.

'But Diaby did not play, so this was a strategic sale for us.'

However, coach Jacques Santini seemed disappointed to be losing another player after striker Benjani Mwaruwari moved to Portsmouth last week.

'My managers sell. After Benjani and Diaby, I should maybe expect some more departures,' said the former France and Tottenham coach.

'Abou was one of the players I used at the start of the season and then he had to stop because of repetitive injuries.

'Maybe he was attracted by England and the money there. This probably did not force him to make all the necessary efforts to come back to his best level with us.'

PA International