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Last Updated: Friday, 22 July 2005, 05:48 GMT 06:48 UK
Wenger waits on Baptista decision
Julio Baptista
Arsenal and Spurs have both made offers for the striker
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger believes he has a "50-50" chance of signing Sevilla striker Julio Baptista.

Wenger thinks north London rivals Tottenham are out of the race but is unsure whether the 23-year-old will choose Arsenal or to stay in Spain.

The Gunners have had three verbal offers and one formal 13.75m rejected, while Spurs offered 14m.

"It is 50-50. It is down to him. He might stay where he is or go to another club in Spain," said Wenger.

"I'm not sure he will go to another club in England but I don't know.

"However, I feel we have the players we want. If we can add one more we will but if it doesn't happen then it doesn't happen."

A late transfer would be the worst case scenario for us. We wouldn't have time to replace him
Sevilla coach Juande Ramos

Baptista, a Brazil international, is thought to be in favour of spending one more year in Spain in order to qualify for a European passport under residency laws.

He could then move anywhere in Europe without the need for a work permit.

That could open the door for another La Liga club to move in - but although Barcelona have been linked with the striker they have yet to make an offer.

Sevilla, who sold Jose Reyes to Arsenal in January 2004, are unwilling to part with Baptista and are confident they can keep him.

Coach Juande Ramos said: "The club want him to stay, he apparently wants to stay and unless a big offer comes along, the signs are that he will stay.

"Baptista is a pivotal player for Sevilla. We all want him to stay but we are aware of the situation he is in, so we will have to wait and see.

Ramos is keen that if a deal is to be done, however, it is done quickly.

"A late transfer would be the worst case scenario for us. We wouldn't have time to replace him - but I hope it doesn't come to that."

Baptista, who scored 20 goals in 30 leage appearances last season, has always seemed relaxed about the tug-of-war over his services.

"I have never said that I wanted to leave or that I didn't want to stay at Sevilla," he said.

"I don't know what is going to happen, but I am calm.

"I have come here to work and to play here a further season. In August (2006) I will get my papers in order to get Spanish nationality.

"I will no longer take up a non-European place, which is very important for me."

However, he has admitted speaking to Wenger.

"It was a fast conversation, in order to get to know each other and that is it," he said.

That led Sevilla to claim he had been illegally approached - but this was swiftly played down by the Highbury boss.

"We approached Sevilla first. At some stage you have to speak to the player," Wenger said.

"You do it because you have to know if the player wants to join you.

"When you're close to ending negotiations with the club, you have to know if you have to put a million more in."

Arsenal fail in new Baptista bid
15 Jul 05 |  Arsenal


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