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Last Updated: Monday, 31 January, 2005, 18:50 GMT
Wenger confronts Blues over Cole
Ashley Cole celebrates scoring Arsenal's winner
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has called for Chelsea to come clean over their alleged meeting with Ashley Cole.

The News of the World claimed Cole, 24, spoke with Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho and chief executive Peter Kenyon.

Kenyon refused to deny the story, while Mourinho's claim he was in Milan speaking to striker Adriano at the time has been dismissed by Inter.

"If somebody has not respected the rules it is not him (Cole) - it is Chelsea," Wenger said.

"If they don't behave as they should, it's down to the Premier League to start an inquiry and to get them punished."

The Premier League cannot act until they receive an official complaint from Arsenal.

But Wenger added: "It looks to me like, yes, it has happened, although I don't know.

"Before we complain, we must have evidence the meeting has happened but I don't know how so much assertive evidence comes out in a newspaper.

"Ashley said he is fed up with that story, that he is completely committed to the club and he doesn't want to know about it.

Any club which by itself, by any of its officials, by any of its players, by its agent, by any other person on its behalf or by any other means whatsoever makes an approach either directly or indirectly to a contract player shall be in breach of these rules

Possible punishments include:
Fine unlimited in amount
Suspend for such period as it shall think fit
Deduct points
Expulsion from the league
Order compensation to another club
Any combination of the above or any other order as it thinks fit

"He wouldn't lie to me. But if you asked anybody who was in this meeting if it happened, nobody would say 'yes I was there'.

"I don't want to speak to Mourinho because if I asked 'were you in that meeting', I can guess the answer straight away.

"But I do know one thing, that if it happened, it was not on the initiative of Ashley because he wants to stay and I know that from him.

"What I don't want now is to shift that responsibility from Chelsea to Ashley Cole."

Wenger suggested that the timing of the story could be deliberate, with the Gunners facing Manchester United on Tuesday in a game that could put a final nail in the coffin of either side's title hopes.

He added: "The timing is not welcome before a big game. I find that coincidence just a little bit troublesome."

Gunners chairman Peter Hill-Wood earlier said in The Sun: "It has been reported in a very definite manner and that makes you think something untoward has gone on.

"The Premier League rules are very clear on this matter. If the club is presented with evidence that those rules have been contravened I'm sure we will take the matter further.

"These are very serious allegations and we will be investigating the matter as quickly as possible.

"Ashley Cole is under contract to Arsenal for another two seasons and I am sure the club will be talking to him about these reports in an effort to get this matter resolved.

"We know this sort of thing does go on in football and it would not be the first time another club has tried to speak to one of our contracted players."

The report on Sunday claimed Mourinho, Kenyon and agent Pini Zahavi held talks with Cole at the Royal Park hotel in Lancaster Gate on 27 January.

The newspaper says it has sworn affidavits from a member of the public who witnessed the meeting.

Chelsea did not issue an official denial on Sunday but Kenyon spoke to BBC Radio Four and, when asked if he had anything to fear from an investigation, said: "No, not at all."

Inter Milan striker Adriano
Mourinho has admired Adriano for some time

Kenyon would not be drawn into commenting directly on Chelsea's interest or otherwise in Cole but said: "There was supposed to be another secret meeting with another Premiership club about another Premiership player.

"So where do you stop with these things? The rules of the game are quite clear so we're just getting on with our business."

Mourinho was questioned about the allegations after his team's FA Cup win over Birmingham.

"On that day at that time I was in Milan speaking with (Inter Milan and Brazil striker) Adriano," he said.

But the Blues boss, who is Portuguese, added: "I was just practising my Portuguese with him because I don't need strikers.

"I have a perfect and wonderful squad and I don't need any more players this season. Next season I will need one or two."

But Inter spokesman Paolo Vigano said: "Not only is Adriano not for sale, it is impossible he saw Mourinho on Thursday.

"There are no negotiations for Adriano and it is impossible Mourinho has talked to our player without our knowledge."

Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein had said on Sunday: "This is a very disturbing matter and we will deal with it very seriously.

"We'd be very interested to see the evidence obtained."

Cole's agent Jonathan Barnett denied the meeting took place.

He said: "Any suggestion that Ashley Cole has spoken to anyone at Chelsea is total and utter nonsense.

"There is no problem between Ashley and Arsenal. Ashley is extremely happy at Arsenal - he has neither asked (for) nor considered a move."

Mourinho has previously admitted following the progress of Adriano, a 22-year-old Brazilian international.

He said: "I watched Adriano several years ago at the Toulon Tournament and, as all eyes were on him, his name stayed in my mind.

"It seems obvious that Adriano is the striker for the coming years, because of his technical ability, his almost super-human physical capacity and his aggressive and competitive mentality.

"Adriano will be the great striker of world football."

Adriano started his career at Flamengo before joining Inter in the summer of 2001.

He had a loan spell at Fiorentina, then was allowed to join Parma before moving back to the San Siro at the start of 2004.

Interview: Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger

Interview: Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon

Interview: Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho

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