Viola Message To Arsenal: Melo Out

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Could Arsenal’s pursuit to sign Felipe Melo be over for this summer?

News reports this Tuesday indicate that the Brazilian midfielder has signed a contract extension with Italian side Fiorentina, which would keep him at the Serie A club until 2013.

According to a statement released from the Italian club, “Fiorentina announces that its sporting director Pantaleo Corvino met in Milan with Felipe Melo’s agent and an agreement was reached to extend the player’s contract until 2013 with a buy-out clause also included.”

The 25-year-old Melo joined Fiorentina last summer from Spanish side Almeria, and his performances in Italy with “La Viola” have attracted the attentions of the likes of Arsenal and Inter Milan.

One interesting thing to note is that a buy-out clause was included in the contract/announcement, meaning that Melo could still be available for a club willing to negotiate an additional fee to prize him away from Fiorentina.

That might mean that the speculation of a Melo move to Arsenal or Inter may continue (or be put off for a year or two), but as Gilberto Silver noted in his Gunnerblog this morning, “were the Brazilian truly interested in a move, why would he sign a new deal at all?”

Meanwhile, a number of young players have officially signed with Arsenal. Four youth team members have agreed professional terms with the club, including defenders Luke Ayling and Cedric Evina, goalkeeper James Shea and midfielder Craig Eastmond.

With the announcement on the club’s official web site that the four have put pen to paper on professional deals, Arsenal has also revealed that eight young Gunners are departing this summer.

The biggest names among the youth and reserve players released includes Amaury Bischoff and Rui Fonte. Bischoff joined Arsenal just last summer from Werder Bremen on a one-year contract, yet failed to make an impact at the Emirates and spent much of his time with the Reserves.

Fellow Portugal Under-21 international Rui Fonte was at Arsenal on a three-year development deal from Sporting Lisbon, but the Gunners have decided not to take up the option on the forward, who returns to his Portuguese club.

Defenders Abu Ogogo and Paul Rodgers (who yesterday signed with Dagenham & Redbridge and Northampton, respectively) are among the other youngsters released. They are joined by Renee Steer, Anton Blackwood (off to Tottenham on a free), James Dunne and winger Vincent van den Berg.

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