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Friday, 06 March 2009 00:42

Rui Fonte happy with Crystal Palace loan extension

Forward would return to Portugal “only for Sporting”

Rui FonteArsenal’s Portuguese striker Rui Fonte is happy to have extended his loan deal with Championship side Crystal Palace until the end of the season.

The youngster, who is still part-owned by Sporting, has been with the English second-tier club since January, when Gunners boss Arsene Wenger decided the 18-year-old needed first-team football to aid his development.

“It’s the best thing for me, because I am playing in a very professional league, with experienced athletes and tough matches,” he said. “If I was in the Arsenal reserves, I wouldn’t have the chance to evolve in the same way. The manager (Neil Warnock) spoke with me today and said that I would be getting more opportunities.”

The move saw the young forward re-united with his older brother, former Benfica defender Jose Fonte, who has been with Palace since the start of last season. “This has been an enriching experience, because I am playing not just with my brother, but with other experienced players with a lot of quality,” said Rui.

“(Jose‘s support) is very important. I have moved and we are living together. For our parents it is a wonder, as they don’t have to worry about arranging time to see two matches. They come to see Crystal Palace and they can be with both sons.”

England the best place to develop

As for the future, Rui is not concerned that he will drop down the pecking order at the Emirates while he is out on-loan, and although not ruling out a return to Sporting, admits that England is the best place for him to grow as a footballer over the coming years.

“I am not worried about being forgotten about. I am going to keep playing in a London team and Arsenal can easily follow my progress. I am in a team in a stable position and I have all the conditions to do well.

“I am going to do everything I can to continue in England and with Arsenal. However, returning to Portugal would not be a let down, as it would be a sign that Sporting wanted to keep me. But in my country, I admit I only want to play for Sporting and it would be a step back to play for anyone else outside the big three.

“In England I can develop much more as a player, at Arsenal or in another club in the top divisions. I am going to do everything to do well at Crystal Palace and after that I expect Arsenal to continue with me.”

By Sean Gillen

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