Villarreal eye Gilberto

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Villarreal have stepped up their interest in Arsenal star Gilberto Silva - although they have been firmly rebuffed in their advances so far.

Although Arsenal look unlikely to sell the midfielder, the likelihood of Patrick Vieira staying with The Gunners has increased Villarreal's optimism over signing Gilberto.

With the player's agents indicating that he is happy at Highbury, Villarreal may be forced to look elsewhere as they seek a replacement for departing Sebastian Battaglia.

Gilberto looked on the verge of joining Villarreal before his displays at the World Cup lured Arsenal into making a bid that brought him to England.

The Spanish club believe that the promise of a regular starting spot and UEFA Champions League football may force a change of heart from the Brazilian.