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Dec 2, 2010

Schwarzer agrees Fulham stay

Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer has signed a new contract until the end of the 2011-12 season, the club have confirmed.

Schwarzer, who would be available on a free at the end of the season, handed in a transfer request in August to try and force through a move to Arsenal but no deal materialised.

The 38-year-old Australian, who joined the Cottagers from Middlesbrough in 2008, has now agreed a new deal that contains the option of a one-year extension

Fulham manager Mark Hughes said: "It's something we've wanted to do for quite some time. I think Mark was keeping his options open and he had every right to do that.

"But it was the case that he understood where we want to take the club. We are delighted as a club and, if we are to be successful in the future, we need a quality keeper, which Mark certainly is. It [Arsenal's summer interest] was a situation I walked into.

"Obviously, there was lots of talk and there had been contact, I think, between both clubs prior to myself walking through the door. It wasn't a situation that I wanted to develop because I've got a huge admiration for Mark and his ability as a goalkeeper.

"And if we're going to be successful in the future then we need that stability of a top-quality goalkeeper within our backline. So I made it really a priority to try to convince Mark that this was the right place for him.''

Schwarzer made no secret of his desire to move to Arsenal, who have had problems in the goalkeeping department. But Hughes managed to convince him he could fulfil his ambitions at Craven Cottage.

"He was obviously very flattered, I think, by the interest,'' Hughes said. "But he understands what we provide here. In terms of the environment that's created and the amount of player care that you get here, on and off the field, I think it stands comparison to any club.

"So he knew that if he did leave here, there were a lot of things that would have to be right and correct for him to feel it was the right decision. We're delighted that he's decided to stay here and we can move forward now.''

Schwarzer's decision is likely to end reports linking Wigan's on-loan Bolton keeper Ali Al Habsi with Fulham.

But Hughes is planning additions in the January transfer window, adding: "January is not ordinarily the best time to acquire players. But if we feel that it is the right acquisition and at the right level, we will try to get players in. We are always looking to add to the players we have.''

Schwarzer will line-up against Arsenal when Fulham travel to the Emirates on Saturday.

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