Premiership - Wenger denies Anelka interest

Eurosport - Fri, 20 Jul 20:37:00 2007

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has denied being interested in former striker Nicolas Anelka while giving a vote of confidence to Theo Walcott and Nicklas Bendtner.

FOOTBALL 2006-2007 Euro 2008 qual. - France-Ukraine - Anelka - 0

Wenger, who saw Walcott score one goal and provide one of Robin van Persie's two strikes during the Gunners' 3-0 pre-season victory over Turkish club Genclerbirligi, was asked about the possibility of re-signing Anelka eight years after he left Highbury for Real Madrid.

He replied: "No. We have signed Eduardo [da Silva]. We do not collect strikers; we buy the strikers we need.

"We could see [in the match] that we have a lot of hope for Theo Walcott. He has shown that he is in much better shape than last year, at the same time after the World Cup.

"Theo has recovered well from his shoulder injury and he is at an age now where you expect more every month.

"This season we also expect Nicklas Bendnter to step forward and show us some aspects of his talent."

Walcott, 18, is already a full international and travelled as part of the 2006 World Cup squad, although he did not get a game.

"Theo is in the squad of 20 players," Wenger continued. "When you want a successful season, every player will get his share in the number of games he will play - and Theo can be an important asset for us."

Wenger is also impressed with new signing, Brazil-born Croatia international Da Silva, who appeared as a substitute in the match, held in Austria.

"You could see straight away when Eduardo came on that he is a quality player," he said. "His movement, his sharpness, the quality of his runs and his final ball was perfect."

Bolton manager Sammy Lee has admitted that he would allow Anelka to leave for a club in the Champions League.

"I have to be fair to the boy," said Lee. "He is 29 and he has told me he wants Champions League football. So would I, and I would like us both to achieve that here at Bolton.

"But if one of the top four in England, or a Champions League club in another country, showed an interest in him, and he wanted to go, it would be remiss of me to stand in his way."

Meanwhile French boss Wenger has allowed Mexican teenager Carlos Vela, previously on loan at Celta Vigo and Salamanca, to join Liga club Osasuna on a season-long loan.

He had considered applying for a work permit for Vela, 18, but decided to wait as the attacker will have earned a European passport by next summer.

Jonathan Symcox / Eurosport