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By ESPN Staff
Jan 14, 2009

Wigan expect Heskey to stay until summer

Wigan Atheltic chief executive Brenda Spencer does not expect in-demand striker Emile Heskey to leave in the transfer window after claiming the player pledged to stay until at least the summer.

Heskey, who is out of contract in the summer, has been linked with former club Liverpool and Aston Villa in recent weeks.

Manager Steve Bruce has stressed he wants to keep his squad intact and remains hopeful the England international will sign a new deal. It now seems unlikely the 31-year-old will leave this month.

''I think Emile has been fantastic for us,'' said Spencer. ''When we bought him from Birmingham people thought we were mad but he has been an absolute gem for us and has done well for himself.

''He is a fantastic pro and we would be sorry to lose him in the summer if he goes. But he is enjoying his time at Wigan and has told us he was staying with us until the summer, (that) he was seeing out his contract.

''He is 31 so if he gets his final move we would wish him all the best. It (the relationship) has worked both ways with loyalty on both sides.''

Chairman Dave Whelan said he wanted Heskey to sign a new one-year contract but negotiations had yet to begin: ''To be honest, we have not started to discuss anything with Emile,'' he told Sky Sports News. ''But we said to him we'd like him to sign for another year.''

One player who is on his way out is Kevin Kilbane. The midfielder, whose contract expires in the summer, is in talks with Hull and a deal is expected to be concluded by the end of the week.

Winger Antonio Valencia is again being linked with Real Madrid, who are reported to be ready to offer £15million plus Argentinian striker Javier Saviola.

Midfielder Ryan Taylor is also attracting the interest of Lancashire rivals Bolton and Blackburn while Tottenham are the latest club reported to be keeping tabs on Wilson Palacios.

However, Bruce and Spencer are adamant they do not want to sell any of their players, and if they do it will only be for big money.

''If anyone comes in with an offer for any of our players they'd better make sure they have a big fat one,'' said Bruce. Spencer added on Latics World: ''We will be fighting tooth and nail to keep all our players here. If someone comes in and wants a player badly enough and offers enough money and the player wants to go we have to consider it.''

Whelan reiterated his appeal to Heskey to remain at the club for the sake of his England career.

Interested parties have another two weeks to make contact over a January move for the striker, but he could leave for nothing in the summer when his contract ends.

Whelan insists he would not stand in the way of any player who wanted to leave in order to compete at a higher level but believes Heskey would be wise to consider remaining with the Latics.

''Let me say this: we hope he's going to remain a Wigan player. We don't want to sell any one of our players if we can help it,'' he told Sky Sports News.

''It's no secret that we are being approached for two or three of our players. When you play for Wigan and one of the big clubs come in for you, it's impossible (for us) to say 'no, you can't go'. We're not like that here.

''But Emile is back playing for England and that shouldn't be disturbed. He's playing for Wigan every single week, if he goes to a big club he might be on the pitch twice a fortnight or once a fortnight. That's not enough for England.''

Whelan also had his say over Manchester City's reported £100 million bid for AC Milan's Kaka, claiming a successful deal would ''ruin the heart and soul of football''.

City reportedly approached AC Milan over a possible move for the Brazil playmaker, with a nine-figure fee rumoured to be on the cards, although the player later said he wants to ''grow old'' with the Rossoneri.

''If this kind of deal is the kind of deal which is about to take place it will ruin the heart and soul of football,'' he told Sky Sports News.

''If some Arabian fellas or oil-rich sheikhs come in and pay £90million for a player, that is totally barmy. If Manchester City come in and offer that I think the game will suffer in the end.''

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