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Tuesday, 14 August, 2001, 12:50 GMT 13:50 UK
Vieira considered leaving Arsenal
Patrick Vieira
Vieira had too much affection for Highbury to leave
Patrick Vieira has admitted he seriously thought about leaving Arsenal during the summer because of interest from some of Europe's biggest clubs.

The 25-year-old, currently in France with his national side ahead of their friendly with Denmark, was courted by Manchester United, Juventus and Real Madrid.

"I seriously considered leaving Arsenal, the interested clubs were great ones," Arsenal's new vice-captain told the daily sports paper, L'Equipe.

If I ever leave Arsenal, it will be with my head held high and a mutual agreement from both parts
Patrick Vieira
"But I've never met any of these clubs' managers on a one-to-one basis."

Earlier this summer, Vieira was alleged to have said he wanted to get out of Highbury.

But he said that was completely untrue.

"If I've finally decided to stay, it's because I'm convinced that the club and I can reach new heights together," he said.

"We have what it takes to go very far in the Champions League. And we can win the championship."

Title aim

Arsenal have finished second behind Manchester United in the past three seasons since winning the double of Premiership and FA Cup.

Vieira said he wants to try and regain some of those honours.

"I really love this club. They've brought me a lot and if I ever leave them it will be with my head high and a mutual agreement from both parts."

With the Premiership resuming this weekend. Vieira has made clear what his side's objective will be.

"The main priority is still the championship, but, on the other hand, winning the Champions League would be proof that we are the great side of the season."

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