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Last Updated: Monday, 7 August 2006, 16:54 GMT 17:54 UK
Wenger wants quick Cole decision
Ashley Cole
Cole has been linked with a 25m move from Arsenal to Chelsea
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger wants left-back Ashley Cole's future to be settled by the end of this week.

The 25-year-old has repeatedly been linked to Chelsea, and Wenger said: "I don't know what will happen.

"For me, the deadline has come to make a decision one way or another and I would see this week as the limit."

Cole is not in Arsenal's squad for Tuesday's Champions League tie at Dinamo Zagreb and so, if he moves, he could play for Chelsea in Europe.

Wenger insisted that Cole was left out for fitness reasons but Chelsea, who returned from a pre-season trip to America on Monday, would not want to sign a player who is ineligible for their 2006-07 Champions League campaign.

"I have known for a long time that I will not play Ashley in this game because he came back late, and then he was sick," he said.

"We do not play our players before they are at a certain level of preparation."

And the Frenchman was adamant a quick solution to the on-going transfer speculation would be beneficial - for all involved.

There are many people who have predicted many times that we will collapse and we have always improved

Arsene Wenger

He added: "It is better because it gets the player settled again and their mind on the team. That is what you want.

"When you are a fan, you want the players to be focused on the targets of the club and the team.

"On that side, it is good that it ends one day.

"I am in football for one reason - to play the football I love.

"To play the football I love, I need the players who can play the game I love and until now we always managed to do that.

"We have one advantage in that we have never been a prisoner of names.

"There are many people who have predicted many times that we will collapse and we have always improved.

"I have in my squad good enough players, no matter who leaves."

Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein has admitted that initial talks between the two London clubs have taken place.

Chelsea were fined - together with Blues manager Jose Mourinho and Cole - in June 2005 after they breached league rules by meeting without Arsenal's knowledge.

Cole's relationship with the Gunners has been strained of late and in promotional material for his new book the defender criticised Arsenal for making him a "scapegoat" over the tapping-up affair.

The England left-back is expected to cost Chelsea up to 25m, with some reports linking unhappy Blues defender William Gallas with a move in the opposite direction.

Wenger said he admired the Frenchman but added: "We have never spoken to player or club about that so it's pure speculation at the moment."



SEE ALSO
Henry will miss European opener
01 Aug 06 |  Arsenal
Cole signs new deal with Arsenal
18 Jul 05 |  Arsenal
Chelsea, Mourinho and Cole fined
01 Jun 05 |  Premiership


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