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Gunners in the hunt as Villa eyes Barca exit

DAVID Villa has told Barcelona that he wants to leave the club this month, according to reports in Spain.

The Spain international is understood to be growing increasingly frustrated with his lack of playing time and sees his future away from the Nou Camp.

That future could be at Arsenal, who have registered an interest in the 31-year-old striker.

The Gunners are desperate to add some firepower to their frontline, particularly after defeats to Manchester City and Chelsea in the league that have seen them slip worryingly off the pace in the hunt for Champions League qualification.

Arsenal's hopes of signing Villa appeared to have been dashed after a series of statements in recent weeks from Barcelona regarding the striker's future.

However, if today's report in a Spanish newspaper Sport is true, Arsenal's chances of bringing in the striker during the transfer window may not be over.

Meanwhile, Theo Walcott has revealed that his close friends and family were concerned whether he would cope with the pressure over his protracted contract saga with Arsenal.

Arsenal feared that Walcott was simply running down his contact to secure a lucrative move away, but he had always said that he wanted to stay and, after talks resumed last month, he agreed a pay rise to take his salary beyond £5 million a year.

"It has been tough," said Walcott. "I can deal with the speculation but it's more my family and friends who thought I might not have been able to cope."