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Europa League round of 16 draw

Europa League

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Arsenal target Sevilla defender Sebastien Squillaci

Arsenal are in negotiations for French central defender Sebastien Squillaci after he asked to be removed from Sevilla's Champions League squad to play Braga.

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Squillaci would be cup-tied to play for any other club if he played in the final qualifying round tie and, according the Spanish club's website, the Gunners made an offer for the 30-year-old while they were en-route to Portugal.

A statement on the website read: "Sebastien Squillaci has his future in the air. This was recognised away from the microphones by the sporting deputy general, Ramon Rodriguez Verdejo Monchi, who said at the airport in Oporto that the club had an offer from Arsenal, and the player said before the [Champions League] meeting [with Braga on Wednesday evening] that he was not able to play."

"The player asked us not to play this game due to an important offer from a team, although for the moment, we consider the bid to be inadequate and Squillaci remains a Sevilla player," said Sevilla director Ramon Rodriguez after the game.

Squillaci is valued at around €8 million and made his name in France with Monaco and Lyon before moving to Spain. He would bolster the Arsenal backline after the departures of William Gallas, Mikael Silvestre, Philippe Senderos and Sol Campbell as Arsene Wenger has already been rebuffed in a move for German centre-half Per Mertesacker.

Wenger signed Laurent Koscielny from Lorient for a fee of around £10 million earlier this summer, and appears keen to add another French star to his squad.

Arsenal full-back Armand Traore, meanwhile, looks set to be leaving for Benfica. The 20-year-old signed from Monaco in 2006 but has not been able to break into the first team on a regular basis and spent a season's loan at Portsmouth.

With the emergence of England international Kieran Gibbs, the left-back appears set for a move to the Portuguese champions in a reported £3.2 million deal.

Traore's agent Richard des Voeux told Lisbon-based newspaper A Bola: "A number of European clubs were interested in Armand, but the Benfica option is more important in many aspects. The interest is real and we are at a sensitive stage (of negotiations).

"Armand is aware of contacts between Benfica and Arsenal. Benfica are a wonderful club that would interest any player. Obviously, Armand is very interested and excited about the possibility of coming to play at Benfica. Nothing is finalised, but things can be decided very soon."


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