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Liverpool and Arsenal set for showdown

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By ESPN Staff

Arsenal sign defender Silvestre from Man Utd

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has bolstered his defensive options after the Gunners completed the signing of Manchester United defender Mikael Silvestre for an undisclosed fee.

The 31-year-old, who missed a large part of last season with knee ligament damage, has agreed a two-year deal at the Emirates Stadium after nine years at Old Trafford.

Silvestre had fallen down the pecking order at United with Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand becoming Sir Alex Ferguson's first-choice partnership at the heart of the defence.

And with his contract set to expire in 2009 Ferguson has allowed Silvestre - who is the first player to leave United for Arsenal since Brian Kidd 34 years ago - to join one of their major Premier League rivals.

Arsenal though are short on experience and Wenger cited Silvestre's ability to fulfil several defensive positions as the two factors behind the deal.

Wenger said: 'We have a strong squad but a young squad and Mikael's versatility, experience and calibre will provide the extra depth we need to reinforce our challenge for honours this season.

'His defensive adaptability will serve us well and it's a big plus that Mikael has top-level experience and a great understanding of football in the Premier League.'

Silvestre, who has also won 40 caps for France and was part of the squad which reached the World Cup final in 2006, is looking forward to a new phase in his career.

'I've spent a large part of my career at United, the last nine years, and I'll remember that time fondly but feel I'm ready for a new challenge,' said Silvestre who has been handed the number 18 shirt.

'Arsenal is known for playing technical and skilful football, and has a young but experienced squad.

'I'm really excited about this next stage of my career, hopefully playing my part in helping the club to new successes.'

Speaking after Silvestre had completed the formalities of his move Ferguson thanked the French defender for his contribution during his time with the club.

He said: 'Mikael was a great servant and a wonderful professional. We wish him all the best at his new club and thank him for his service.'

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