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Door open for Lehmann exit from Arsenal
December 28, 2007 21:58 IST
Unsettled goalkeeper Jens Lehmann may be allowed to leave Arsenal next month if the right offer is received, manager Arsene Wenger said on Friday.
Wenger added that he had not heard of any firm bid for the 38-year-old German's services and hoped he would stay at the club when the transfer window opens next month.
The London [Images] Evening Standard newspaper reported, however, that managing director Hans Joachim Watzke and sporting director Michael Zorc of Lehmann's former club Borussia Dortmund had flown to London for talks with the goalkeeper.
Wenger told reporters: "We will sit down together, if an offer comes, but I believe first he has to make his own mind up if he wants to stay with us, or not.
"I, personally, would prefer him to stay."
Lehmann joined Arsenal from Dortmund in August 2003 and won a Premier League title with the Gunners in 2004 and the FA Cup in 2005. He was also in the Arsenal team that lost to Barcelona in the 2006 Champions League final when he was sent off early.
Germany's [Images] first choice keeper at the 2006 World Cup, Lehmann is keen to keep his place in his national team for the European Championship finals in Switzerland [Images] and Austria next June.
This season, Lehmann has made only two league appearances and played in two European ties, losing his regular first-choice place to Spaniard Manuel Almunia.
Arsenal travel to Everton on Saturday with Lehmann again likely to be on the bench but the Gunners will be without injured Dutch winger Robin van Persie and Englishman Theo Walcott who still has the flu.
Wenger confirmed that both men are out of his squad but that French defender William Gallas was fit to play despite picking up a knock in Wednesday's 0-0 draw at Portsmouth.
He added that in spite of the injuries, he had no plans to add to his squad during January's transfer window.
He complained that if it had not been for the Premier League's intense fixture scheduling, including three successive away trips to Aston Villa, Newcastle United and Middlesbrough in early December, Arsenal would have remained unbeaten.
"Of course we are disappointed not to be top, but the important thing is to be there, to be first, in May," he said.
"We have only lost one game since the start of the season and I believe that if we had not played three games on the trot away from home, as never existed before for anybody, we would not have lost yet."