Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Warm welcome for Gilberto

The 31-year-old Arsenal midfielder is set to be unveiled by Panathinaikos on Thursday once he passes a medical and signs a three-year contract in a move which will cost the Athens club a reported total of US$15.8million.

PAO president Nikos Pateras met with Gilberto's representatives last week and thrashed out a deal after offering Arsenal accepted an offer of US$1million.

Gilberto, whose flight arrived half an hour late at 18.20 local time, was overwhelmed by the reception and was whisked away by Pana officials without making any statements to the local media.

Barring any last-minute changes, the World Cup winner will ink a deal that will see him earn US$11.9million over the next three years, making him by far the best paid player in the country.

Despite being made vice captain of Arsenal in 2006, Gilberto found himself on the fringes of the first team last season due to the presence of Cesc Fabregas and the emergence of Matthieu Flamini, who has since left the club and been replaced by France midfielder Samir Nasri.

After beginning his career in 1997 with America Mineiro, Gilberto moved to Atletico Mineiro three years later. He earned a starting berth in the Brazil team that won the 2002 World Cup.

His displays in Japan and Korea were rewarded by a move to Arsenal that summer and he went on to win one Premier League title and two FA Cups with Arsene Wenger's men.

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