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Benayoun joins Arsenal

    Yossi Benayoun
    Yossi Benayoun

    Yossi Benayoun has joined Arsenal. A dramatic day of negotiations ended on Wednesday night when the Israel captain signed a one-year loan deal at the Emirates.

    Having been linked with moves to Spurs, Liverpool and Lille, Benayoun flew into Heathrow airport on Wednesday morning and completed his transfer from Chelsea just hours before the transfer window closed.

    Benayoun tweeted: "I'm very happy and excited to be an Arsenal player but now my head is only in the game against Greece. Thanks for your support."

    The midfielder will earn the same salary of around £70,000-a-week and Chelsea and Arsenal will decide whether to make the loan permanent next summer.

    Benayoun, who has joined his fourth Premiership club, had been given special dispensation to leave Israel's training camp ahead of Friday's crucial Euro 2012 qualifer against Greece to complete the move.

    He landed in London expecting to sign for Spurs. But it soon materialised that both Liverpool and Arsenal were interested in signing him on loan. Benayoun had been inclined to return to Liverpool who had sold him to Chelsea last summer, but the 31-year-old was convinced by Arsene Wenger during a phone call on Wednesday evening before flying back to Israel after the deal was confirmed.

    His agent, Ronen Katsav, said: "It didn't take much persuasion for Yossi to come to a team like Arsenal."

    The writing was on the wall for Benayoun when he handed his shirt number to new signing Juan Mata. The playmaker, nicknamed The Kid from Dimona, made only eight appearances for Chelsea after joining from Liverpool last year. He experienced a frustrating and injury-ravaged spell and slipped down the pecking order at Stamford Bridge under new boss Andre Villas Boas.

    The deal was the latest piece of business by Wenger who has responded to the 8-2 defeat against Manchester United by signing Brazil defender Andros Santos and German defender Per Mertesacker.

    Additional reporting by Simon Griver

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