Silvestre targets trophies after Arsenal switch

August 22, 2008

Mikael Silvestre maintains his 'fire' burns as fiercely as ever - and sees no reason why he should not add to his medal collection at new club Arsenal.

The French defender, 31, enjoyed a long period of success at Manchester United, where he won four Premier League titles, the FA Cup and League Cup over nine seasons.

However, after spending most of his final campaign on the fringes of the Red Devils' squad following a severe knee injury, Silvestre does not intend to be warming the bench at Emirates Stadium.

'I wanted to come to Arsenal because the potential to win trophies is there and the fire is still in my heart,' he declared. 'Hopefully I can look forward to a fresh start without any injuries.

'I left United especially because I did not want to spend any more time on the bench after nine years. I did not want to spend an extra one just waiting for the testimonial to arrive. That is not my mentality.'

Silvestre told Arsenal's website: 'I was looking at a new challenge and when someone like Arsenal comes along, you cannot say no.'

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger hopes the Frenchman can bring some experience to his young squad.

Silvestre said: 'It will be natural to give some advice, but I will not be focusing on that. The main thing is to be part of the team and perform well, to show an example on and off the field.'

The arrival of Silvestre, nevertheless, remains something of a coup for the Gunners.

Transfers between rival top-four clubs are rare, even though Ashley Cole and current Gunners skipper William Gallas moved as part of a swap deal with Chelsea in August 2006. But Silvestre is the first player to leave United for Arsenal since Brian Kidd 34 years ago.

His contract was set to expire next season, and it seemed as if Silvestre would either be heading back home to Bordeaux or for the short switch to Manchester City.

The player admitted the move to Emirates Stadium was something of a surprise.

'I would not have expected that, but Sir Alex [Ferguson] and I had a very good relationship, that is why I stayed so long there because playing for him was a great honour,' he said.

'He listened to me, and would not go against me, so I am pleased. It is hard to leave because there are so many nice people there. But the fans will understand that as a player you leave.

'I was loyal to Man United for nine years and will now be loyal to Arsenal and perform as much as I can, which is all that matters.'

Wenger revealed Silvestre was unlikely to feature in tomorrow's late Barclays Premier League kick-off at Fulham as he recovers full match fitness after a muscle strain.

Midfielder Cesc Fabregas remains a major doubt for the trip to Craven Cottage as he recovers from a hamstring strain.

However, the Euro 2008 winner should return for the second leg of the Champions League qualifier against FC Twente next week.

'You know how important he is on the creative side of our game and you want him to be in the team, but we do not want to face a gamble for just one game and we have to be patient,' Wenger said.