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FOOTBALL:Vieira plays it cool on Madrid.

PATRICK VIEIRA'S agent continues to play down speculation linking the Arsenal skipper with a move to Real Madrid.

The French international midfielder has been linked with a major transfer to either Real Madrid, Juventus or even Manchester United in recent summers.

Vieira signed a lucrative new three-year contract at Arsenal just a year ago when Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich made a verbal offer for both Vieira and Thierry Henry to Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein.

And Steve Kutner is playing down reports that the player's representatives are about to sit down with the Real's power-brokers to discuss a possible move.

The agent says any switch to Madrid, reported in some quarters as involving a pounds 30m fee, can only be made through Arsenal.

Vieira - like the Gunners' other Euro 2004 finals stars - has still to report back for pre-season training, and has not yet had his say on the matter.

But speculation linking him with Real intensified following Florentino Perez's victory in the Spanish club's presidential election at the weekend.

Kutner said: "Just because Perez says he admires a player does not mean he is going to sign him."

CAPTION(S):

SPECULATION: Arsenal's Patrick Vieira
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Jul 15, 2004
Words:194
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