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ARSENAL appear to be facing a losing battle against a major case of deja vu as Real Madrid step up their bid for marauding midfielder Patrick Vieira.

The Gunners sold Nicolas Anelka to Real after losing their fight to hang onto the gifted striker and now his fellow Frenchman Vieira is maintaining his push for a transfer away from Highbury.

Agent Marc Roger is reported to have met with Arsenal chairman Peter Hill-Wood and admitted the widely held belief that his client is seeking a move to Santiago Bernabeu.

 The North Londoners simply do not want to off-load their influential 25-year-old but Real mean business and are even more determined to land their man now that another top target, Gaizka Mendieta, appears to be on his way to Lazio.

As previously reported, Real will need to do some hard bargaining in order to persuade Arsene Wenger to accept a deal, and there is the prospect of a player being involved as a bargaining chip in order to reduce the outlay.

Cameroon international Geremi has been forwarded as one likely candidate, but the African is close to sealing a move to Chelsea, and the latest indications from Spain suggest Elvir Baljic is being considered as a makeweight.

The 27-year-old Bosnian international is an attacking left-sided player, who scored four goals in a Euro 2000 qualifier in Estonia back in 1999, and has spent some time on loan at Fenerbahce.

Wenger would appear to have other plans for his squad and the whispers of a late bid for Barcelona's free agent Josep Guardiola support the theory that The Gunners need to start looking to replace somebody who is irreplaceable to them, as Vieira shows few signs of committing his future to Highbury.