Samba extends Blackburn stay

Blackburn Rovers defender Christopher Samba has ended speculation linking him with a move to Arsenal by signing a new four-and-a-half year contract.

The 26-year-old had been strongly linked with a move to Emirates Stadium during the recent transfer window, after expressing his desire to leave Ewood Park following Sam Allardyce's controversial sacking in December.

Despite previously confessing his concern at the path Blackburn were taking following the take-over by Indian poultry giants Venky's, the Congolese centre-half decided to extend his stay in Lancashire after a big move away failed to materialise.

"It is a good feeling. We have been in discussions for a little time and I needed a couple of answers," the Gunners target told Sky Sports.

"But the way we have played and the players the manager has brought in means we are not far off being a top club in the league.

"I'm in a period of my career where I need to make important choices.

"I've made the choice to take the challenge to try and take the club as high as possible, to maintain that position and to be recognised as one of the top clubs in the country."

With Samba being linked with a move to the Gunners in the January transfer window, his manager Steve Kean was equally relieved that the former Hertha Berlin man chose to follow in the footsteps of Michel Salgado, Ryan Nelsen and Jason Roberts in penning a new deal.

"This is more great news for us," the Scot told Blackburn's official website. "The fact that he wants to be part of what we are trying to build here is further evidence of the exciting times that lie ahead.

"Chris is a major part of the picture at Rovers and his form has created a lot of interest from around the football world."

Samba was thought to be attracting the attention of Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, who was believed to be keen on adding a new centre-half following the news that Thomas Vermaelen would be ruled out for longer than first thought.

By James Martini