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Over-used Mertesacker in need of rest

Arsenal
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Atletico confirm interest in Arsenal's Fran Merida

Atletico Madrid have confirmed their interest in Arsenal midfielder Fran Merida, whose contract expires at the end of the season.

Merida, 19, moved to Emirates Stadium from Barcelona in 2007 and scored his first goal for the club in the 2-1 Carling Cup victory over Liverpool on Wednesday, but he has yet to agree a new deal.

And while Atletico president Enrique Cerezo acknowledges that the decision will ultimately rest with the player, he admits he would be keen to bring him to the club next summer.

"He has entered into our plans for next season," Cerezo said. "He is a player that interests us. The decision rests with the kid because he is free in June."

Sevilla have also been linked with a move for the Spaniard, but it appears he is eager to stay at Arsenal. Arsene Wenger hailed him as a "quality player" following his Carling Cup performance and suggested that he could make the breakthrough into the first-team this season, and Merida has indicated that he would be happy to sign a new deal.

"At the moment, I am talking to the club so I don't know what is going to happen," Merida said. "Hopefully everything is going to be alright but we are going to sit down and talk about it.

"I am really happy here and things are going okay. I am really happy in London, too, so we will see what happens."

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