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Liverpool and Arsenal set for showdown

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Blackburn confident of Samba stay

Blackburn are eager to hold onto defender Christopher Samba this summer despite accepting that he wants to join Arsenal.

Samba open to offers
United finally clinch Jones deal

Samba, 27, revealed last month that he was "very close" to joining Arsenal in January and, although he signed a contract extension until 2015 in February, he has suggested that he would welcome a move.

Venky's chairperson Anuradha Desai has now stressed that she is confident Samba will remain at the club next season but acknowledged that he is keen on a move to Emirates Stadium.

"We don't want to let Chris go," Desai told the Mail on Sunday. "I'm confident that we can keep him and I hope he'll stay. I know he has an ambition to play for Arsenal but I hope we can keep him for another year at least and prove our own ambition."

Meanwhile, Desai has claimed Blackburn decided against making an official complaint over Phil Jones' move to Manchester United out of concern for the player's welfare.

United made a £16.5 million bid - matching Jones' release clause - but Rovers considered taking action as they felt he may have been tapped up. United eventually agreed to pay an extra £4 million in add-ons to ensure the deal went through.

Desai said: "We have reasons to believe that the player's agent and maybe the player had been in touch [with United] for two to three months before permission was granted.

"I was ready to take Manchester United on, ready to go to a tribunal if that's what it led to, but we spoke at length to Steve Kean and we knew Phil wanted to go to United.

"We concluded that the person who would be most damaged by a delay and legal action was Phil. That wasn't fair on him. There was a release clause for £16.5 million and the total deal was £4 million more with the add-ons. We wish Phil well.

"Phil is an outstanding young English player and I'm proud of the role Blackburn played in developing him. We made him an enormous offer to stay with us and we wanted to keep him."

Manchester United have denied any wrongdoing over the transfer.

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