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Liverpool and Arsenal set for showdown

50-50 Challenge
By ESPN Staff

Hamann onboard, Pearce focuses on Barton and Distin

Manchester City manager Stuart Pearce remains confident captain Sylvain Distin and midfielder Joey Barton will sign long-term deals.

Both players, who are out of contract in the summer, have been linked to a number of top clubs.

But Pearce, who has snapped up Dietmar Hamann, believes progress is being made in an effort to get the duo to sign up.

He said: 'We are speaking with both of them.

'In fact I had a chat with Joey on Tuesday and the same with Sylvain.

'We are hopeful at the moment. We think they will be Manchester City players for many years to come.

'We want to hold on to our best players.'

Hamann, 32, baulked at suggestions he was winding down his career at City.

The former Liverpool midfielder said: 'I feel I can play another three or four years at the highest level.

'I want to help City progress and taking the club into Europe would probably be a similar achievement as winning a trophy with Liverpool.

'They have a proud history, great facilities and have a good future.'

City have paid compensation to Bolton to secure the services of Hamann even though he never kicked a ball for the club.

It is the latest twist in a drama that unfolded in the space of 90 minutes this week when initially it was stated Hamann was leaving Liverpool for Bolton.

Then the Trotters revealed his stay at the Reebok would be one of the shortest in history.

Instead of joining Sam Allardyce's men as initially agreed, the former Germany international said he would be joining City.

Hamann explained he made the decision to join Bolton too quickly just hours after deciding to leave Liverpool.

But he pointed out: 'It sounds as though I made my mind up on Tuesday not to go to Bolton but that is not the case.

'I signed for Bolton four or five weeks ago and realised a few days later I had made a mistake.

'I informed the club I would like to go somewhere else if possible.

'After a week they told me I was open to speak to other clubs.'