Merida to fight for first team place

Arsenal starlet Fran Merida has revealed that he rejected a loan move to Spanish side Levante this summer because he is keen to prove his worth with the Gunners.

The 19-year-old, who arrived from Barcelona's acclaimed youth ranks in 2005, has been capped by Spain at U17, U19, U20 and U21 level, but has so far made just four Premier League outings for Arsene Wenger's outfit.

The diminutive playmaker, who has been tipped to one day succeed current Gunners' skipper Cesc Fabregas at the North London club, has previously spent a loan spell at Spanish side Real Sociedad, where he made 14 appearances.

And although the youngster was widely expected to depart the Emirates Stadium again on loan during 2009/10 to gain further experience, he has revealed that he will now be staying in England to try and force his way into Wenger's firsy-team plans.

"I am 100 percent staying," he said in the Daily Mail.

"It is true that I had an option to go out on loan but me, the boss, my agent and my family decided that the best thing for me is to stay here.

"The boss told me he believes in me and the only thing I can do now is prove it on the pitch and repay that faith.

"My target is to help as much as possible to get trophies. I truly believe we have a fantastic chance. We have started well, we must keep that going because we haven't done anything yet.

"Every time you get the chance to play in the reserves it is good because you keep your match fitness.

"Personally it's just about training hard, taking any chances I am given and doing my best for the team. Hopefully the season can be great for Arsenal."