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Macintosh: Prem Heroes and Villains

Premier League about an hour ago
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By ESPN Staff
Dec 19, 2007

Defender Djourou to return to Arsenal

Defender Johan Djourou will definitely return to Arsenal next month after spending the first four months of this season on loan at Birmingham.

The 20-year-old Switzerland international followed the likes of Fabrice Muamba, Sebastian Larsson and Nicklas Bendtner in going on loan from the north London club to City, but Arsene Wenger now wants Djourou back.

The key reason is the absence of centre-back Kolo Toure for around a month while he plays in the African Nations Cup with Ivory Coast.

Blues boss Alex McLeish told the Birmingham Mail: 'Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has told me he is taking him back in January.

'He will be a loss, for sure. It is disappointing that he is not going to be with us for much longer.'

Djourou has started 12 of Birmingham's 17 Barclays Premier League games to date and has impressed at times.

'You have to respect Arsenal's decision,' McLeish added.

'Johan is a big presence of a boy, no doubt about that, and those kind of players seem to be a feature of many a squad in the Premier League.'

Last season the Ivory Coast-born defender started 18 league games for the Gunners and was a substitute in a further three.

He had earlier revealed he was not sure where his future lay in January.

Djourou said on Sky Sports News: 'Obviously I love my club Arsenal and if they want me back, hopefully it will be for a good reason.

'I want to play there as well.

'It is a difficult choice but I have to accept what the manager (Arsene Wenger) is going to do.

'I would be happy in both situations.'