Gilberto wants to end career with gunners
Gilberto Silva, the understated dynamo of the Arsenal team, today gave Arsene Wenger a massive boost when he revealed that he wants to spend the rest of his career with the club.
The 28-year-old midfielder has one year left on his present deal and manager Wenger said two weeks ago that he wants the World Cup winner to sign a new deal.
Gilberto was delighted at the news and said: “I am happy about that. We haven’t started talking yet but I want to stay at this club.
“I like it here very much. I also like my life in England. If you are happy, then you don’t want to move.
“The spirit among the players is fantastic and we have some of the best in the world like Patrick Vieira, Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp. If I have the chance to finish-my career at Arsenal, then I would be very happy.”
Gilberto’s immense value to the team is clear from the statistics. Although his season has been disrupted by injuries, he is one of the keys to making the side tick.
With him in the team Arsenal have not been beaten in 13 matches and boast a winning rate of 86 per cent. Without Gilberto, this drops to 56 per cent and in those 39 games Arsenal have lost five times.
The Brazilian helped his club to a magnificent start, winning six of the first seven Premiership matches but once he was diagnosed with a serious back injury in late September and forced to step down for six months, Arsenal’s incredible momentum stalled.
The injury was painful and rehabilitation laborious. He spent long periods back in Brazil and only at the turn of the year did a scan show the fracture in his back had healed. After three reserve games, Gilberto was back in the first team on 2 April in the 4-1 win at Norwich.
His comeback coincided with another impressive run by Arsenal. In four Premiership games, they have recorded three wins and drawn 0-0 at Chelsea. They have also reached the FA Cup Final.
After his £5million move from Atletico Mineiro in the summer of 2002, many Arsenal fans were unconvinced by his value but you have to go back to a cold night in January 2004 - in a Carling Cup semi-final with Middlesbrough - to find the last time Gilberto tasted defeat while wearing an Arsenal shirt.
He first jarred his back in the 4-1 win at Everton on the opening day of the season and recalled: “I was tackled hard and hurt my back. It was a dull pain and I carried on.”
But after the draw with Bolton, the pain was too much. A scan showed a fracture and he was told to return to Brazil for complete rest. Gilberto was fitted with a corset-like device to immobilise his back and gradually the bone knitted.
Obviously frustrated, he turned off his mobile phone and missed the get well calls from his team-mates.
“I just wanted to be playing and it was hard for me that I couldn’t,” he explained. “I just had to do everything properly. If I didn’t focus on that then there was a danger I might not play again.”
But the player returned full of determinat ion and has his own appreciation society now.
Gilberto added: “Sometimes I don’t think people realise what I do out there. People see now more than they did before what I try to give to the team. Because I came from Brazil, they were expecting me to do the same as Ronaldo or Ronaldinho.
“But that is not what I do. I play for the team. I don’t look for headlines, that is not the most important thing for me. The team is important. The way myself and Chelsea’s Claude Makelele play, no one can see us on the pitch. All we try to do is be in the right place at the right time.”
Gilberto’s setback was compounded by injuries to Henry, Edu and Sol Campbell.
He added: “Whenever there are problems, it unbalances the team. The manager tried to do things when the important players were out and brought in youngsters.
“But you can’t put pressure on them like you can with experienced players. Now I want to help the team finish in second place and play in what should be a great FA Cup Final against Manchester United.”
United have beaten Arsenal three times this season, but all without facing Gilberto. They will clearly find a player who is desperate to make up for lost time.
Best news I’ve heard all day.