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 Posted by ESPN Staff
May 13, 2006

Pires moves closer to exit from Highbury

Robert Pires looks set to quit Arsenal unless the club decides to increase the length of their contract offer to two years.

The French winger attempted to deflect interest in his future ahead of the Champions League final against Barcelona but admitted the one-year offer on the table is still short of what he wants.

Pires will be out of contract in the summer after six years with the Gunners but insists he will not make any final decision on his future until after the game against the Spaniards.

However, while acknowledging that he had received offers from other clubs, the 33-year-old denied signing a pre-contract agreement with Villarreal.

Pires said: 'The situation is quite simple at the moment, we have got the final coming up and we are going to focus on that and afterwards I'll decide whether I am going to stay or leave.

'At the moment I don't know what I am going to do. Arsenal has been a fantastic club to me at every level but I need to think whether I'm going to stay here or go to another country.

'Arsenal's offer was a one-year contract - the same thing they offered Dennis Bergkamp.

'But I'd like a firm offer of two years. I need to think about the offer that Arsenal and Arsene Wenger have made. I will sit down after the Champions League final and do that.

'It is said that I'd signed for Villarreal, but I can't guarantee this is true. I've received offers, but it's possible I could still stay with Arsenal.'

Pires does not know whether he will be included in Wenger's starting line-up for the final against Barcelona even though he has played in all but one of their home games in Europe this season.

Pires added: 'The final is very important for all the players. Arsene Wenger has to make his decision and I have to respect his choice.

'But in Europe this season I've played all the home games except the Real Madrid match. I played against Juventus and Villarreal. These were massive games and I was pleased to play in them. We will have to see.'

Arsenal will be considered as the underdogs against Barcelona but Pires says that will suit them.

The Gunners over came both Real Madrid and Juventus after being cast in a similar role.

But the French winger knows they will have to improve on their performance against Villarreal in the second leg of the semi-final to stand any chance of winning Europe's top prize.

Pires said: 'We know the Villarreal game was the worst we'd played in the Champions League this season.

'Without a fantastic performance from Jens Lehmann we would not be here talking about the final.

'We know we were almost knocked out and that Barcelona are favourites and we are the outsiders.

'That is a position we are used to. We were outsiders against Real Madrid and Juve but we beat them both.

'It suits us to be in that position. Everyone assumes Barcelona will win but they should watch out.'

Meanwhile Pires revealed that none of the Arsenal players were surprised by teenager Theo Walcott's England World Cup call-up.

Even though the 17-year-old has yet to play a Premiership game for Arsenal, Pires insists the teenager is the best he has seen for his age and that he can become England's `super-sub' in Germany.

Pires added: 'He is a really good player. It was a surprise for everyone to see he was selected in the 23 for England but not much of a surprise for those of us at Arsenal.

'It is true he has not played a Premiership game but we know him well. We have trained with him and he is an interesting prospect. He can be a `super-sub' if you like. He is very quick and technically gifted as well as good finisher. I think he would be excellent coming on in games, and yes, he is quicker than Thierry Henry.

'He is the best 17-year-old I've seen. He joined us at the age of 16 and he is youngest player I've ever seen who has all the qualities that he has.'

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