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50-50: Liverpool vs. Real Madrid

Champions League 1 day ago
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By ESPN Staff
May 7, 2008

Wenger disappointed in Flamini defection

Arsene Wenger is 'disappointed' Mathieu Flamini did not share his vision for Arsenal's future, but is convinced there are enough 'winners' left in the squad to prove him right next season. The 24-year-old France midfielder, who was out of contract in the summer, earlier this week completed his long-anticipated move to AC Milan. Arsenal had been keen to keep Flamini, who forged a strong partnership with Cesc Fabregas at the heart of the team, but not at any cost. The Emirates Stadium club are understood to have offered Flamini - a player whom 12 months ago looked on his way out of the club - a lucrative new deal, worth around £55,000 a week. Because he was a free agent, Flamini was able to get himself a better package elsewhere and rumours continue over whether Inter Milan target Alexander Hleb or indeed Fabregas will be at Emirates Stadium either for the start of next season. Wenger, though, insists Arsenal will not be held to ransom by anyone looking to force them to break the club's strict wages cap - and would not want anyone to stay unless it was to share his determination for success. 'It is a problem [the salaries on offer] but we did not master this situation [with Flamini] because when a player is out of contract he can sign where he wants,' said Wenger, speaking at a forum for Arsenal's shareholders. 'I must say I am disappointed that he did that - but legally he can do it. 'But I hope that 95% of the team, the core of the team, says 'come on, we have only just lost'. Wenger insisted he did not want any more players to leave this summer, with Hleb reported to be ready to buy his freedom under new FIFA regulations of the Webster Clause. The Arsenal manager has been less than impressed with other clubs talking up his players who are under contract. The Arsenal manager insisted: 'We want to keep Hleb, we want him to be part of our team next year. 'It is as simple as that. We have lost one player [Mathieu Flamini], we do not want to lose more.' Wenger added: 'What people say about the buy-out clause, it is not as simple as it looks. 'It is much more difficult and the clubs are reluctant to do that [invoke the Webster Clause].'