London: English champions Arsenal say it is possible captain Patrick Vieira and fellow French international Robert Pires could leave the club if they make unreasonable wage demands.
Arsenal chairman Peter Hill-Wood said on Thursday that the club was borrowing £ 300 million to finance their move to a new stadium at Ashburton Grove, which meant the club would limit the amount it spent on player salaries and transfers.
Hill-Wood also said manager Arsene Wenger would be given only £10 million a year to spend on buying players for the next three years.
“Players generally have to get real. They have to realise wages are no longer going to move out of control,” Hill-Wood said.
“Of course we would make an exception for an exceptional player and Patrick Vieira is an exceptional player, and we have made such exceptions — that is why Thierry Henry and Vieira are with us.
“But it is possible that players like Vieira and Pires will leave, it is possible unless they face facts. We want them to sign new deals but there is a limit to how much we can offer them and that’s it.”
Vieira and Pires are coming to the end of their current deals and are involved in talks over new contracts.
Hill-Wood said wage increases would be limited, bringing them more into line with inflation, currently about three percent in Britain.
“We cannot possibly sanction a massive increase in the wage bill,” he said. “It has been steadily increasing, but in recent years it has escalated by 25 to 30 percent.
“That is no longer sustainable. The wage bill will have to be more in line with inflation, and that is how it should be.”
Arsenal hope their new stadium, which will seat 60,000 fans compared to 38,500 at Highbury, will be ready in 2005, at a total cost of £ 380 million.