Belfast Telegraph

Vieira: Gunners lack leadership

Arsenal's "lack of leadership" is damaging their quest for the top trophies, according to former player Patrick Vieira.

Vieira was Arsene Wenger's midfield lynchpin from 1996 to 2005, part of the "Invincibles" who claimed the 2003/04 Premier League title without tasting defeat.

Arsenal have failed to win a major trophy since Vieira's 2005 exit and the former France midfielder said Wenger's side are still craving more talismanic figures.

The Gunners top the Barclays Premier League by five points but World Cup winner Vieira still believes they would benefit from greater guidance from their senior squad figures.

Vieira said: "I think when you look at Arsenal they play fantastic football, but you need to win games playing badly and I don't think Arsenal are capable of that at the moment.

"And maybe as well there is a lack of leadership.

"They may not have a Tony Adams, a Sol Campbell, a Martin Keown. These kinds of players who can be a leader on and off the field."

Vieira was speaking for ITV's documentary Keane and Vieira: The Best of Enemies, to be aired on Tuesday night, chronicling the rivalry between the former Arsenal and Manchester United counterparts.

Vieira also revealed he turned his back on a move to Real Madrid at the last minute in 2004, admitting he would have left Arsenal at that stage had he known he would prove surplus to requirements a year later.

He said: "I was really close to leaving for Madrid the year before I left.

"The deal was done between the two clubs, so when it was time for me to leave I changed my mind because I believed that I wanted to stay at Arsenal, I wanted to finish my career at Arsenal.

"I didn't see any reason to leave, I don't know if it was lack of courage to go.

"If I knew I was leaving the year after, I was going to Madrid."

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