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Europa League round of 16 draw

Europa League
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By ESPN Staff

Benched Gilberto denies rift with Wenger

Arsenal midfielder Gilberto has denied a rift with manager Arsene Wenger over his recent exclusion from the side.

The Brazilian has struggled to regain his place, with Mathieu Flamini in outstanding form, and some reports claimed he had refused to play in Wednesday's Carling Cup win at Sheffield United - although he did in fact take the field.

Gilberto said in the Observer: 'It was strange, this thing that I had a fight with Arsene.

'I never did that. We have a mutual respect for each other and although I'm not happy to be on the bench, and he and everyone knows that, I always respect his decision about what he thinks is best for the team.

'I'm being very professional, so I don't understand how these things come out when we don't have any problem. I'm not the kind of person who would refuse to play.'

The 31-year-old's contract expires in 18 months and he is aware of interest from several major clubs, including Juventus, but will not make a decision on his future until next summer.

'We'll see at the end of the season what's going to happen,' he said.

'But now I just play football and don't think about what comes from outside.'