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Sun 3 Feb 2008 07:18 AM

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Gunners pull clear

Emmanuel Adebayor's reputation is soaring after helping the Gunners go top of the Premier League.

Arsene Wenger could be facing a desperate battle to keep star striker Emmanuel Adebayor at Arsenal after the Togo international enhanced his growing reputation by helping the Gunners pull clear at the top of the Premier League. Adebayor helped himself to a brace of goals as Arsenal ended Manchester City's unbeaten home record with a 3-1 win on Saturday.

It was a particularly significant win as Manchester United were held by Tottenham later in the day and Adebayor deserved the headlines after a polished display that underlined why he is rapidly becoming one of the most talked about and sought-after forwards in European football.

Wenger heaped praise on Adebayor, but didn't help himself when suggesting the 23-year-old has filled the void left by Thierry Henry's departure to Barcelona last year.

Several of the continent's leading clubs, including Real Madrid, Juventus and AC Milan are known to be keeping close tabs on the progress of the lanky forward with a view to making a bid for him in the summer.

It remains to be seen whether or Adebayor wishes to pledge his long term future to the London club, but it is a safe assumption that Wenger will be encouraging his board of directors to tie his leading goalscorer down to a new and improved long-term contract.

Should a European rival table a multi-million pound bid come the end of the season, Arsenal might find themselves in a difficult position.

As Wenger proved with Henry when selling him to Barcelona for 16 million pounds, every player has their price irrespective of how important they are to the club.

Wenger paid seven million to sign Adebayor from Monaco two years ago and the price was questioned at the time.

Adebayor has flourished this season, however, scoring 21 goals, including eleven in his last eight games, to suggest Wenger landed himself a bargain.

Adebayor is the only player capable of keeping pace with United's Cristiano Ronaldo in the scoring charts this season and Wenger admits he is maturing into a class act.

Wenger said: "At the moment I'm grateful for every game that he plays in and the fact he's still at home and not away with the African Nations Cup (because Togo did not qualify)."

"I have a lot of respect for Ronaldo, but I'm happy with the players I've got. Ronaldo is more of a winger while Adebayor is a real centre forward."

"He's made a big, big improvement this year and he is remarkably consistent. He made a big impact on two very good centrebacks and had a big influence on us winning the game.

"He's more composed in front of goal now. He wasn't like that when he first came to the club. The changes in his game have been tremendous."

"It's not important that he finishes top scorer (in the Premiership). It's more important that the team wins."

"He's a generous type of guy. He has big stamina, strength and power and just loves to play. Thierry Henry is a world class player and we don't forget him, but to fill the void left by him is fantastic."

City boss Sven Goran Eriksson admitted his side had no answer to Adebayor's talents and he added: "He suits Arsenal's style of play well and he is difficult to deal with."
"You can see he is a very talented player who has a massive future in the game. He took his goals well but there is a more to his game than just that."

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