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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Aug, 21, 2008

Wenger refuses to rule out Barry swoop

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is still on the look-out for a midfielder after landing defender Mikael Silvestre - and once more refused to rule out his interest in Gareth Barry.

The Gunners pulled off something of a coup to land veteran Frenchman Silvestre from rivals Manchester United, where he had spent nine years.

Wenger has, though, made no secret of his quest to bring in another midfielder before the transfer window closes on September 1 - with first-choice pairing Cesc Fabregas and Abou Diaby both sidelined by injury, although Alex Song has now returned from the Olympics and could feature against Fulham on Saturday.

Several players - including Udinese's £8million-rated Switzerland international Gokhan Inler and Liverpool's Xabi Alonso - are reported to be on Wenger's radar.

Even though Barry was not able to secure a move to Anfield during the summer and is now ineligible for the group stages of the Champions League after appearing in Aston Villa's UEFA Cup campaign, Wenger was again coy about whether he would step up his recruitment drive - which would almost certainly not be anywhere near the £18million asking price.

'I can surprise you sometimes, as I got one in whom you did not expect, and there still might be one more player coming in,' said the Arsenal manager.

'You know the position, but I cannot tell you much more.'

Asked whether there would still be interest in Barry, Wenger said: 'There is interest always.'

However, he insisted: 'I do not want to give you any names.

'But we are not in a desperate situation because we have Song back from the Olympics, Diaby does not look too far away and hopefully we can good news from [Tomas] Rosicky in the next two weeks.

'We are not short short, but one more body is possible.'

On the subject of pursuing potentially cup-tied targets, Wenger added: 'I believe once somebody cannot play for you in Europe, it devalues the player for the season - but it is not necessarily stopping you from buying a player.'

The arrival of Silvestre, however, remains something of a coup for the Gunners.

Transfers between rival top four clubs are rare, even though Ashley Cole and current Gunners skipper William Gallas moved as part of a swap deal with Chelsea in August 2006.

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.

His contract was set to expire next season, and it seemed as if Silvestre would either be heading back home to Bordeaux or for the short switch to Manchester City.

Wenger, though, sees no problem with the transfer. He said: 'They let him go and we took him.

'I felt Manchester United had made up their mind to let him go before we were interested, to maybe Manchester City or to France, so it was not necessarily us going in there and buying a player.'

Wenger revealed Silvestre was unlikely to feature in Saturday's Barclays Premier League game at Fulham as he regains full match fitness from a muscular strain.

However the Arsenal manager hopes the defender will have a big role within the squad.

'He can play centre-back, he can play left-back and that is an area where we were a bit inexperienced,' said Wenger.

'He has a great team attitude and he can help us in the dressing room as well with his maturity.'

Fabregas is a major doubt for the trip to Craven Cottage as he recovers from a hamstring strain, but should return for the Champions League qualifier second leg against FC Twente next week.

'You know how important he is on the creative side of our game and you want him to be in the team, but we do not want to face a gamble for just one game and we have to be patient,' he said.

'We will have to asses him on Monday or Tuesday to see how big a gamble it will be to start him or not.'

Wenger was at the University College Hospital in central London today visiting the Teenage Cancer Trust ward, which is Arsenal's charity of the season.

The aim is to raise some £300,000 to aid the TCT in their bid to build a new day care centre.

Emirates Stadium is visible from the ward, which offers much-needed support for teenagers and young adults with cancer in the London area.

Wenger said: 'Football raises a lot of money and if you can help other people, you should.

'A club has a social responsibility, maybe in England more than anywhere else because here a club grew out of its environment within a city.

'One of the strengths at Arsenal is that we are very conscious of that social responsibility.'

Elsewhere, Arsenal have allowed 19-year-old full-back Armand Traore to join Portsmouth on a year-long loan.

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