ARSENAL manager Arsene Wenger remains hopeful that he’ll start the new Premier League season with both Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas at the club.
On the day that Wenger finally confirmed the £11.2m signing of Lille forward Gervinho (below) – “subject to a regulatory process” – the Frenchman was also positive about his chances of persuading his two midfield maestros to reject the overtures of Barcelona and Manchester City, respectively.
Speaking in Kuala Lumpur as Arsenal began their pre-season preparations, Wenger said: “Cesc loves the club and hopefully we will manage. We know that this story for Barcelona has gone on for years now, we have to close that and focus on the season, hopefully with Cesc Fabregas.”
Asked about Nasri, who has one year remaining on his contract and who has so far stalled on signing an extension, Wenger added: “Will he be at the club next season? I say yes. The second part [of the question] – will he sign a new contract? I hope yes, but I am not the only one to decide.
“There is always speculation when a player has only one contract year to go and has not signed a new contract that he might leave the club. But Samir Nasri is very happy at the club and is committed to staying at the club.”
Last night Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson, who is also tracking the former Marseille schemer, hinted his chances of signing the 24-year-old had diminished, suggesting he had been swayed by another lucrative offer, understood to have been tabled by City.
Wenger also confirmed that both Nicklas Bendtner and Manuel Almunia are in talks to leave and said that Gervinho, his new £11.2m acquisition from Lille, would train at the club’s London Colney base this week.
“Gervinho has come back from holiday and signed,” he said. “He had a medical on Thursday: we sent him back home to sort things out for two days.
“He has a family with children. He came back yesterday and starts his fitness programme in London today. He is officially an Arsenal player now. I decided not to take him because he had had no training sessions.”
Despite the loss of Gael Clichy to Manchester City, however, Wenger will not be investing any of the £7m he received for the Frenchman on a new left-back with senior England international Kieran Gibbs set to be promoted having spent much of last season on the sidelines injured.