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By ESPN Staff

Lehmann to stay a Gunner after deal collapses

Borussia Dortmund today announced their move for Arsenal goalkeeper Jens Lehmann has broken down with the Germany international opting to remain with the Premier League leaders.

Lehmann's Arsenal contract expires in the summer and Gunners boss Arsene Wenger said he would not stand in his way should he opt to return to Dortmund.

But the 38-year-old has vowed to fight for his place at the Emirates Stadium.

'Although it would have been a very attractive challenge to play for Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga once again, I have decided against taking this step due to personal reasons,' said Lehmann, who has lost his first-team place at Arsenal to Manuel Almunia this season.

'I am sorry, particularly to disappoint the people responsible at Borussia Dortmund, who have tried very professionally to convince me to move and gave me sufficient time for consideration.'

His decision may impact on his chances of representing Germany at Euro 2008 this summer.

Germany coach Joachim Low has stated previously that only players playing regularly for their clubs will be considered for national team duty.

Lehmann informed Low of his decision on Friday morning.

'Obviously, Jens' return to the Bundesliga would have been interesting because a player of his quality is always an enrichment, but from talks I have had with him in recent days, I know that he has given this decision serious thought and therefore it will be the right one,' Low said.

Germany team manager Oliver Bierhoff offered Lehmann his backing.

'Jens is experienced enough to understand his own personal situation and he will have reached a decision which is right for him,' he said.

'Independent of that, he still enjoys our full faith and will be given all the backing he needs.'

Wenger said earlier on Friday that he wanted Lehmann to stay and that he would be included in the squad for the Premier League clash against Birmingham on Saturday.

'Lehmann will be on the bench [against Birmingham],' said Wenger.

'The indication I can give is that I am happy if he stays because he is an important player in the squad, like Gilberto also.

'We have such a young squad that these players have a big weight in the dressing room and a big input in the team. I am happy if they stay.'

Dortmund chairman Hans-Joachim Watzke said: 'We regret Jens Lehmann's decision but do of course respect it.'

Borussia sporting director Michael Zorc added: 'It was worth the attempt to get the Germany number one to Dortmund. It's a pity it did not work out.'

Meanwhile, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has ruled out a move in the January transfer market to strengthen his side.

Asked if he planned any signings, particularly with players like Ivory Coast defender Kolo Toure at the African Nations Cup, Wenger told a news conference on Friday: 'We can cope.

'I have looked at our programme through to February 10 and I am sure we will be alright,' he said, with an eye on the finals in Ghana which run from Jan. 20 to Feb. 10.

'We had hoped that (Alex) Song might not be involved, but he was named in Cameroon's 23-man squad.'

Justin Hoyte, a reserve who played in central defence during Wednesday's 1-1 draw with local rivals Tottenham Hotspur in the League Cup semi-finals, could now get a run in the side.

'I know I can depend on him as well,' he said. 'And we have Gilberto, too, who can play very well as a centre-back even he does not enjoy it.'

Looking ahead, Dutch forward Robin van Persie will miss Saturday's league game with Birmingham City due to a bout of flu', but defender Swiss defender Philippe Senderos passed a fitness test on Friday.

'Robin is in bed. We haven't seen him since Wednesday night,' Wenger said.