Baptista heading back to Real

Julio Baptista is set to return to Spain following his season with Arsenal.

Julio Baptista is set to return to Spain following his season with Arsenal.

The 25-year-old Brazil international was on loan from Real Madrid, with Jose Antonio Reyes going the other way, and had his advisors in London towards the end of the season to discuss his future with the Gunners.

“Arsenal have told me they are not able to buy me and so all I can do is return to Real Madrid,” he said in Spanish newspaper Marca.

“I have enjoyed my season with Arsenal and in England. I adapted well. I didn’t play much at first but finished much better.”

Part of Baptista’s problem was holding down a regular position, his versatility meaning he could play as a defensive midfielder up to the forwards.

Baptista is known as ’The Beast’ for his imposing physical presence but was also nicknamed ’Batigol’ for his goalscoring form for Sevilla before signing for Madrid.

He got into double figures for Arsenal but six of those goals came in the Carling Cup, and he did not make the same impact in the Premiership. He also revealed recently that he struggled with the English weather.

Baptista’s return would improve the chances of Theo Walcott establishing himself in Arsene Wenger’s starting XI, with the 18-year-old back in training following his shoulder operation.

“I will be fully fit for the new season, as long as I have a good pre-season and don’t pick up any injuries. I’ll be raring to go,” said Walcott on club website

Walcott, who will miss out on the European Championships with England Under-21s next month, will return two weeks earlier than the rest of the squad to start pre-season training.

Robin van Persie and Thierry Henry will also return early, although Barcelona striker Samuel Eto’o would like Henry to join him at the Nou Camp.

He said: “I don’t know if we [Ronaldinho, Lionel Messi, Henry and Eto’o himself ] could all play together. That is the coach’s job. The coach decides who to sign and how the team will play.

“All I know is that I want the best players in my team and Henry is one of the best.”

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