Gunners' Trabelsi bid in balance

ARSENAL'S bid to sign Tunisian right back Hatem Trabelsi from Ajax is on the brink of collapse as manager Arsene Wenger continues to insist Patrick Vieira will not be leaving the Gunners for Real Madrid.

Wenger, who has added midfielder Mathieu Flamini from Marseilles and goalkeeper Manuel Almunia from Celta Vigo to his squad this summer admits he wants to sign a right back and has "some interest" in Trabelsi but the entire £3.5million deal looks doomed and that could let Newcastle United back in.

Magpies manager Bobby Robson has been closely monitoring Trabelsi's efforts to extricate himself from a contract dispute at Ajax and was reportedly willing to pay the Amsterdam club's asking price to conclude the issue.

Trabelsi, however, apparently preferred the Arsenal option but it appears his salary and signing-on demands have proved too rich for the Premiership champions.

Wenger has also declared he is "not interested" in potential Vieira replacement, Nuno Maniche, FC Porto's Portugal midfielder.

Porto have claimed Arsenal are already negotiating to buy the Euro 2004 star but Wenger said: "I speak to a few agents but that doesn't mean I want to buy the players."

Decrying the near annual mass media speculation over Vieira's future, Wenger said: "He will not go to Real Madrid. I have said it 100 times. If it was going to happen it would have happened a long time ago. He will be here at the start of the season if he is the best in his position and fit."

The stories continue to fly, but as Wenger points out, there has still been no official bid, even though general opinion indicates Arsenal would accept £30million-plus.

Other reports say Real's chief negotiating agent Luis Vicente is in London talking to Vieira's representative Steve Kutner and plans to start the bidding at just £21m.

David Dein, Arsenal's full-time director and vice-chairman, is still not willing to say anything on a subject which his chairman Peter Hill-Wood has already called "irritating."

In Austria where Arsenal are on tour, a source close to the Arsenal players says they are lampooning Vieira over the speculation and the midfielder is joining in the banter.

Sol Campbell's achilles injury - which flared last season - kept him out of training in Austria but the England centre back should play in at least one of the games at the annual Amsterdam festival next weekend against either Ajax or Argentina's River Plate.

Brazilian midfielder Gilberto has also been sidelined by a back problem and Edu, who replaced him in the Brazil squad for the Copa America, is unlikely to rejoin the Arsenal squad until the start of the new season.

Tottenham have had a second bid of £3m for Nottingham Forest midfielder Andy Reid rejected.

Forest rejected a £5m approach from Spurs for the Ireland international in January; manager Joe Kinnear values his chief asset closer to £10m.

Tottenham sporting director Frank Arnesen made a fresh approach after Reid criticised Forest for failing to strengthen the squad this summer.

Forest CEO Mark Arthur said, "we rejected Tottenham's offer of £5m, so I don't know what now makes them think we would be willing to do business at £3m."

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