Last updated : 05 August 2004 By editor
The Independent look at the problems that Arsene may have keeping his side together:

‘If Vieira completes the Madrid jigsaw - then does his departure ruin the picture at Arsenal? The club have been asset-stripped before but somehow, right now, this feels like a different kind of business.

‘Those who cling to the statistics that show that Arsenal's ratio of victories has not registered a blip in Vieira's absences - through injury and suspension - over the past couple of years.

‘That may well be, although clearly one of Vieira's motives for a move is the thought that he has a better opportunity of winning the European Cup with Madrid than he does with Arsenal. That will hurt Wenger, especially as he was his first major signing, a gangly, uncut force eight years ago, for £3.5m from Milan - but not as much as the aching absence that will be felt at the heart of the team if Vieira goes. But, above all, Wenger will be acutely aware what message Vieira's departure would send both inside and outside the Arsenal camp.’

And the Sun reports that the exodus may already be starting, apparently Freddie Ljungberg is ready to leave Highbury:

‘Freddie Ljungberg wants to follow Patrick Vieira through the Arsenal exit door. The Swedish international, 27, is set to stun the Gunners and deepen the crisis at Highbury sparked by Vieira’s £23million move to Real Madrid.

‘Inter Milan, Roma and Juventus are all tracking Ljungberg — and boss Arsene Wenger will be helpless to prevent the midfield star leaving if he receives a £15m bid. Wenger is in danger of seeing his unbeaten Premiership champions torn apart before their big kick-off a week Sunday.’