Wenger satisfied with Arsenal's transfer moves
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Wenger satisfied with Arsenal's transfer moves

Arsenal can concentrate on soccer now that England international Ashley Cole's move to Chelsea is finally over.

india Updated: Sep 01, 2006 23:38 IST

Arsenal can concentrate on soccer now that England international Ashley Cole's move to Chelsea is finally over. The deal, reached minutes before the transfer deadline on Thursday, ended weeks of confusion for Cole, whose move to Stamford Bridge has been lingering since January 2005.

"The positive thing is that it's over," Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger said on Friday. "We've done what we wanted to do and it's up to us to prove that we've done the right things."

Arsenal signed French defender William Gallas in the Cole deal and also acquired Brazilian striker Julio Baptista on loan from Real Madrid in last-minute transfer activity.

Wenger said the signings could help Arsenal return to its "normal level" within a month. Beaten by Barcelona 2-1 in last year's final of the Champions League, Arsenal is currently lingering 17th in the English Premier League.

Wenger, in Geneva to take part in a UEFA forum for top coaches, denied any animosity toward Cole or Chelsea.

"I did not use (play) Ashley Cole, because he could not help us to achieve our targets," he told reporters. "It was not irritating at all. I promised him that he could go, so I never counted on him."

With the move expected, Cole had not played for Arsenal this season although he has lined up for England and is due to face Andorra in a Euro 2008 qualifying game at Old Trafford on Saturday.

Wenger was reluctant to let Cole go unless his club received a fee it thought acceptable. The two London clubs issued a joint statement in the early hours of Friday saying that Arsenal had accepted 5 million pounds (US$9.5 million; euro7.4 million) plus Gallas in return for Cole.

Chelsea's initial efforts to buy the England left-back 18 months ago led to the club and its manager, Jose Mourinho, being heavily fined by the Premier League for failing to consult the Gunners, who had the player under contract.

Cole also was fined 100,000 pounds (US$190,000; euro148,000), straining his relations with Arsenal. Baptista, a member of Brazil's World Cup squad, rejected a chance to join Arsenal a year ago in favor of Madrid.

He moves to Arsenal on a season's loan with Spain forward Juan Antonio Reyes going the other way. Initially a loan, the deal includes options to make the move permanent, Madrid said.

Wenger said he would play the versatile Baptista "up front, or as a hanging offensive midfielder."

"We've brought two more players in who can help us," he said. "We've done more than enough in the transfer market."

First Published: Sep 01, 2006 23:38 IST