Real Madrid have confirmed they are interested in signing Arsenal captain Patrick Vieira.

Vieira has been the subject of intense speculation in recent weeks with reports in England claiming he is willing to quit Arsenal in favour of Madrid.

“Yes. He’s a very interesting player and he’s very important for us and our club,” Emilio Butragueno, Real Madrid’s director of football, said.

“We’re not there yet. It’s a long process… I think this week will be decisive,” Butragueno told a press conference in Tokyo, where Real Madrid are due to play against two J-League teams as part of a pre-season tour.

Madrid are keen to resume their challenge for honours after a disappointing trophyless campaign last season.

“It was just football,” added Butragueno. “All of a sudden our performance went down. There were two or three really important matches where we were unlucky and that had a negative effect from a psychological point of view.

“Now we are going to open a new chapter in the history of our club because Perez won the elections and we signed a new coach in (Jose Antonio) Camacho so everything is going to be new in that sense.

“We are very, very happy about the future. We think we have a great team and we think that Camacho is going to do a good job, so we have to be optimistic.”