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By ESPN Staff

Bruce hopes to keep Heskey, Valencia and Palacios

Wigan manager Steve Bruce is determined to hang on to his best players.

Speculation has surrounded the future of England striker Emile Heskey, who is out of contract in the summer, and Latin American duo Antonio Valencia and Wilson Palacios are also being targeted by some European giants.

This week Real Madrid were linked with a £15million move for Ecuadorian right-winger Valencia - a fee Bruce said was not enough - but there are other sides who are taking a look at Latics players.

"Last week when we were playing [against Blackburn] I think there were representatives from Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, AC Milan, Liverpool, Manchester United - that is normal with us because we have got some good players," said Bruce.

"We don't want to lose anyone but I am mindful the big boys are there.

"It just shows you how far this club has come that the giants of the world are looking at our players.

"We might not have the best of surroundings to do interviews, you might go to other places and have champagne and canapes - whereas here you get a mince pie and a cup of tea out of a machine - but the most important thing is what I have got on the pitch.

"I want to keep hold of them and add to the squad we have got."

Speculation about Heskey's future has rumbled on throughout the first half of the season but Bruce is optimistic the former Liverpool striker will remain loyal to Wigan.

"Emile Heskey is enjoying his football and has got back in the England team by playing for Wigan," added the Wigan boss.

"He thrives in the environment we are in and I haven't given up hope he will still sign.

"When he is here the whole thing revolves around Emile, the way we play, the style of play - we are all suited to Emile Heskey because that is our big strength.

"Other clubs might not think that way and might not get the best out of him.

"If I were him I would be thinking 'Can I have a swansong playing in the World Cup and can I still be England's number nine?'.

"I sincerely hope he doesn't leave. I hope none of them leave because I'm building a really good team and keeping hold of them is not going to be easy."


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