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Could this be Gilberto's final year as a Gunner?


He may still have the best part of two seasons left to run on his contract, but whether Gilberto Silva will be allowed to stay beyond this campaign is now shrouded in doubt with the lure of a reported £10 million sale to entice both club and player.

The big Brazilian was understandably upset when he was overlooked as club captain this season. Our No 19 performed admirably during prolonged spells last season when skipper Thierry Henry was injured and his leadership skills helped drive the young guns on to secure Champions League qualification.

Despite losing the captain’s armband to William Gallas, Gilberto made his peace with Arsene Wenger and stated that he’d like to complete his contract with the club and possibly stay even longer to finish his career at Arsenal.

However, Inter Milan have been linked with a bid for Brazil’s captain for some time, while it now appears that Valencia are lining up a £10 million bid when the transfer window reopens in January.

If true, you could expect Inter to make a counter offer, even though Gilberto would be cup tied for the Champions League games.

I think the chances of Arsene Wenger allowing his midfield stalwart to depart midway through the season are slim, but with such a price tag, it would be very tempting if he thinks the team can perform well without him. And if the offer was still on the table at the end of the season, it would not surprise me at all if Gilberto played out his twilight years overseas...

In saying that, he is in the form of his life. The red card picked up by Philippe Senderos against Portsmouth last week forced Gilberto to switch into central defence and he saved Arsenal more than once during the game with his timely tackles and a level of concentration that big Phil can only dream of achieving.

But Gilberto turns 31 next month and, as we all know, Le Boss has a policy of only granting one-year contract extensions to squad members who have passed the 30 mark. If he stayed to play out the final year of his contract he could leave on a free transfer in June 2009. For many managers that would be disasterous, but Wenger seems to be comfortable with such situations, having allowed star performers Edu, Silvan Wiltord and Robert Pires to do exactly that under his tenure.

Arsene can also be ruthless when it comes to selling senior players whom he believes the club can cope without and a move would allow both Gilberto and the club a healthy pay day.

During the latest transfer window, which ended last week, both Inter and Valencia reportedly made offers for the player, with the latter having an £8 million bid turned down. The reason? Apparently Gilberto is desperate to add a Champions League winners medal to his already impressive trophy haul - and he’s told Wenger that he wants to do that with Arsenal.

Personally, I’d like to see his loyalty rewarded, so I’m hoping that rather than an announcement about his departure in January, we’ll hear about Gilberto extending his contract to remain at Emirates until 2010.

What do you think? Should Arsenal sell Gilberto if one of our potential Champions League opponents offers a £10 million deal? Or should we be looking to keep the Brazilian at the club? Share your thoughts using our comments section below

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Posted by Gordon Masson on September 8, 2007 in | Permalink

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