Wenger: Beast lacking sharpness
By Tom Adams
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Arsene Wenger says Julio Baptista must improve his fitness before starting for Arsenal.
Arsene Wenger has explained that he is reluctant to start new signing Julio Baptista whilst his sharpness remains a concern.
The Brazilian international moved to Emirates Stadium on transfer deadline day from Real Madrid in an exchange deal with Jose Antonio Reyes, but has so far been restricted to three substitute appearances.
The latest came in the 1-0 win over Manchester United on Sunday where Emmanuel Adebayor scored the only goal of the game from his position of lone striker.
Now the Gunners boss has revealed the reasoning behind his decision to keep the man nicknamed 'The Beast' caged on the bench.
After failing to make the Brazil squad for the World Cup finals the 24-year-old is suffering from a lack of first-team football and his French boss is unwilling to throw him in at the deep end in The Premiership.
"Julio is a very good player," said Wenger in The Sun.
"But he's not played a lot of football and needs to be sharper and get some match fitness before he is ready to start games."
The versatile star's next chance to make an impression for his new club will come when Sheffield United visit North London on Saturday.
Meanwhile, The Gunners have revealed that the move to Emirates Stadium over the summer has resulted in an increase of over £100 million in their overall net debt.
In the results for the year ended May 31, 2006, Arsenal Holdings plc announced that net debt had increased from £153.3 million in 2005 to £262.1 million.
Chairman Peter Hill-Wood explained that the debt relating to the move away from Highbury has been restructured in order to allow more substantial investment in the playing staff.
"As well as completing the new stadium we have also refinanced the related debt," said Hill-Wood to the club's official website.
"The refinancing is strongly beneficial as it secures the group's financing arrangement for the long term and, by extending the repayment term and reducing the annual debt service costs, frees up significantly more of the group's future cash-flow for investment in the development of the team."