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Last Updated: Friday, 15 July, 2005, 07:17 GMT 08:17 UK
Will the Gunners miss Vieira?
By Chris Bevan

Patrick Vieira
Patrick Vieira ended his illustrious nine-year spell at Arsenal on Friday when he joined Juventus in a 13.75m move.

The French midfielder was the backbone of Arsene Wenger's all-conquering side and won three Premiership titles and four FA Cups in his time at Highbury.

But he failed to shine as the Gunners' championship challenge foundered last season, raising doubts over whether he is as invaluable to their cause as he once was.

Arsenal have fought off bids from Real Madrid, Manchester United and Juve in the past, but this time he has been allowed to leave.

Former Highbury defender Lee Dixon gives his thoughts on Vieira's exit.

WHY SELL NOW?

Dixon says...

There must be something going on with Patrick and Arsene.

They have obviously talked about things and if a manager of Arsene's quality is letting a player of Vieira's quality go it can't be just about money.

It will be a big blow to the team. Being captain, Patrick is an integral part of the team not only on the pitch but also in the dressing room.

But Arsene Wenger is no fool and if he does sell Patrick he has got his reasons. I think he must have someone lined up to come in in his place.

WENGER'S NEXT MOVE

Dixon says...

The biggest thing for me is that he gave Patrick the captaincy after legend Tony Adams. He thought very carefully about who he should make captain and Patrick stood out a mile as far as he was concerned.

FOUR MEN TO REPLACE VIEIRA
Mahamadou Diarra (Lyon)
Samir Nasri (Marseille)
Modeste M'Bami (PSG)
Jermaine Jenas (Newcastle)

He groomed him to follow in Tony's footsteps, and three years down the line he has let him leave, which does surprise me because I know Patrick is very influential among the other players.

They look up to him for his performances, but he is also the man to link the foreign players with the French and English players. He holds it all together.

It will be interesting to see who replaces him not only on the pitch, but also as a captain.

THE NEXT GENERATION

Dixon says...

Last year was a big one for the club as they were able to bring two players like Cesc Fabregas and Mathieu Flamini on.

It was the one big positive from last season that two good young midfield players emerged to maybe take over from Patrick.

I don't think anybody thought it would be as soon as this but they proved last season that they won't let the club down and they are both going to be very, very good players.

PAST HIS BEST?

Dixon says...

For the last two seasons I think Patrick has dipped below his own standards. Even in the undefeated year, there were times in the season when he wasn't quite on his game.

And last season I think he struggled because Gilberto was out for so long.

They played really well together and Patrick relied on him to do quite a bit of his work, winning the ball back and playing the simple ball and Patrick was able to get on with his more flamboyant style.

His form did suffer because of that. I'm sure Arsene looked at that, and if he had played outstandingly well for the last three seasons without putting a foot wrong then I'm pretty sure he wouldn't be moving.

THE RIGHT DESTINATION?

Dixon says...

He came to Arsenal from AC Milan and I don't know whether he enjoyed his time in Italy.

I just feel Spain might have suited him a little better.

I think if he had had a proper choice he would have gone to Real Madrid - but you don't always get that choice.

Lots of factors affect where a player goes and whether he succeeds, such as climate, culture and domestic issues as well as the money.

Only Patrick will know whether it is the right move for him, and he will know that virtually straight after he's got there when he's settled in with the players in the dressing room.


WATCH AND LISTEN
Interview: Former Arsenal and Juventus star David Platt



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