Arsène Wenger has confirmed that Anthony Stokes is heading for the Emirates Stadium exit.

The Irish youngster is back at Arsenal after a successful loan spell with Falkirk but he has been linked with a move to Charlton. Wenger denied that a deal had been done with the Addicks but explained why Stokes is likely to move on.

"Nothing is decided [with Charlton] because there are some other clubs in for him," said Wenger. "In the end it will be Stokes who makes the choice.

"Whether it is a permanent deal or a loan has not been decided either. It could just be a loan because he has done very well.

"It was a difficult decision but we have a congestion of strikers. We have Lupoli, Bendtner, we have Aliadiere, we have Baptista, Van Persie, Adebayor and Henry. At some stage it is unfair to stop somebody because there is too much congestion in front of him."

Wenger included Lupoli in his roll call of strikers but hinted that he could also leave following reports linking the Italian with a move back to his home country. "We will respect what he wants to do," said the Arsenal manager.

Every week Wenger is asked whether he intends to reinforce his squad during the transfer window. Every week the Arsenal manager answers in the negative.

The same exchange took place during Friday's pre-match press conference after news that Charlton manager Alan Pardew may consider offers for his injured England striker Darren Bent. As far as Wenger is concerned, his position has not changed.

"I am not in for Darren Bent," he said. "With the transfer window I am like somebody who is watching the rain outside from inside the window. They all hurry up out there and I am sitting here watching it with pleasure."

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5 Jan 2007