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Rooney goes swimming with a pig

The Toe Poke

No. 15: John Terry, Chelsea

By ESPN Staff

Villarreal claiming upcoming Pires deal

Villarreal president Fernando Roig claims Arsenal midfielder Robert Pires will join the club in the coming week.

Roig told Spanish TV station Canal Nou that the 32-year-old Arsenal winger would be his side's second close-season capture, following the signing of Turkey forward Nihat Kahveci from Real Sociedad.

Roig said: 'Nihat has been done and in the week to come, Pires will arrive and these are Villarreal's first two signings (of the summer).

'Pires is a player who is going to play in the Champions League final and when that game is over, he will be freed from his obligations and he will be able to come for his presentation at Villarreal.'

The news arrived just hours before Arsenal's Champions League final against Barcelona, and weeks after the Gunners dumped Villarreal out of Europe at the semi-final stage.

Speaking about Pires, who will be a free agent, Roig added: 'There is no need to speak further about the level of the footballer we are talking about and the same applies to Nihat.'

Villarreal only have Intertoto Cup football to plan for next term.

Pires has spent six years at Highbury and helped Arsenal, who he joined from Marseille, win two Barclays Premiership titles.

He was a member of France's World Cup-winning squad in 1998 and then of the triumphant Euro 2000 team, however he has lost his place in the international side.