Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Vieira's Warning; Sort out My Contract, Says Chelsea Target

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Vieira's Warning; Sort out My Contract, Says Chelsea Target

Article excerpt

Byline: MICHAEL HART

PATRICK VIEIRA'S future was thrown into fresh doubt today when the player warned that he wants his contract situation sorted by the start of the season.

The Chelsea target has told Arsenal he wants a quick resolution to his contract talks, warning that if he is not satisfied he may walk out on a free transfer next summer.

That will only intensify Chelsea's efforts to land the midfielder after new owner Roman Abramovich made the Frenchman a key figure in his sensational rebuilding plans.

It is thought Arsenal's captain has asked for more than [pounds sterling]100,000 a week in wages - the kind of massive salary that Chelsea's new regime is in a position to offer.

Vieira, who is on holiday in the south of France, also warned today that he could see out his contract and leave on a Bosman free.

He said: "Either I prolong my contractor I go to the end of it. I want to stay at Arsenal but everything must be resolved before the start of the Championship."

Abramovich, the Russian oil billionaire, is planning to assemble an exciting new midfield, adding Vieira to planned new signings Juan Veron, Geremi and Damien Duff.

Manchester United's Argentine Veron is set to join this week in a [pounds sterling]14million deal, but it is the potential [pounds sterling]50m move for Vieira that will really shake up the Premiership.

Although Arsenal will resist Chelsea's bid for Vieira - and any linked deal for team-mate Thierry Henry - it is believed the Highbury club may be drawn into negotiations if the offer is substantial enough to ease the financial pressure at Arsenal.

The mounting debts at Highbury are causing concern, and problems in securing the funding for the new [pounds sterling]350m Ashburton Grove stadium project have seriously diminished the club's spending power.

Restricted wage deals reflect the financial pressures on Arsenal and may explain why Vieira - who says his knee injury has cleared up and is ready to start the new season - has yet to sign a new contract. …

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