ARSENAL manager Arsene Wenger has admitted he is in the market for a new goalkeeper but has played down speculation linking him with a move for Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer.
Lukasz Fabianski, Vito Mannone and Wojciech Szczesny all appeared between the sticks for the Gunners in Saturday’s pre-season game with Barnet where a brace from Jay Simpson and goals from Andrey Arshavin and Samir Nasri gave Wenger’s side a 4-0 victory.
Manuel Almunia, who has seen his position as Arsenal number one come under question over the summer, was absent from the squad, despite having been named in the original 22-man party, along with striker Eduardo.
Afterwards Wenger claimed Almunia’s absence was due to illness but confirmed that the No. 1 spot was open for next season
“We are still active in the transfer market,’’ he said when asked about the goalkeeping situation.
“At the moment, in pre-season, there is no No. 1 — you have to give a chance to everyone to show how good he is. You cannot decide that today.’’
When pressed about reports linking him with Fulham keeper Mark Schwarzer, Wenger said: “We are looking at various situations, but I wouldn’t like to come out on individuals.’’
Wenger, meanwhile, says speculation surrounding Cesc Fabregas “has to stop’’. Fabregas, who has five years still to run on his contract, may have told Wenger before the World Cup he wanted to return to the Nou Camp, but Arsenal remain determined to retain the services of their captain and have already knocked back one £30 million (€35.5m) offer.
Wenger, however, is confident Fabregas will be at Arsenal next season.
“There was a lot of unneeded talk,’’ he said. “It is not pleasant to read this every day. Now, the story has to stop.
“Cesc is our captain, he is so important to us and we want to keep him, that is why we were not listening to any offers.
“It was not a problem of money, just the desire to keep him at the club.
“It is very important we give the impression that because somebody wants a player from us, we don’t just give in.
“We have shown our love and care for Cesc since the start. I believe Cesc loves the club, has shown his attachment to the club many times and I am very confident the story will end there. We want Cesc to be part of our club next year, and that is it.
“What we want is to build a team for the future, to develop our team and we are not in any talks for next year or the year after — we want our players to be focused on the targets we have at the club.’’
Wenger may be determined to keep Fabregas but it appears William Gallas and Mikael Silvestre will leave the Emirates. Wenger is also unsure of Sol Campbell’s plans.
“I believe that Gallas and Silvestre will sign somewhere else,’’ said Wenger. “Sol Campbell is still in no man’s land at the moment.’’
The Gunners boss has also admitted Manchester City’s emergence as a force has made it even harder for Arsenal to challenge for the title in the upcoming season.
Arsenal finished third last season after falling away in the final third of the season, and they are likely to face increased competition in the title race this season.
“We finished third last season, so we of course try to improve,’’ said Wenger.
“Manchester City have now joined in on the big targets, so it will be hard.’’
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