Arsenal aim to keep van Persie

LONDON. July 23. KAZINFORM Arsene Wenger is still intent on keeping Robin van Persie at Arsenal despite the Dutchman stating that he wants to leave and the club receiving bids from Manchester United, Manchester City and Juventus.

Arsenal flew to Asia for their pre-season tour on Saturday with Wenger citing fitness reasons as the explanation for the forward's absence. "Van Persie is one of the best strikers in the world, if not the best, and my desire is to keep him at the club," Wenger said. "For the rest, I will do what is in the best interests of Arsenal Football Club, as ever. That is where we are. There is not a lot more to say than that."

Wenger is thought to value Van Persie, who turns 29 early next month and has a year left on his contract, at no cheaper than £20m. Sir Alex Ferguson admitted on Friday that United had made a bid for the forward though the offer is thought to be way below Wenger's asking price, as were the initial bids from City and Juventus.

Wenger would not be drawn on whether he is confident Van Persie will stay. "I do not want to talk too much about that situation because I believe it is also important that every individual player is happy," the manager said, Kazinform has learnt from the Guardian.

"What is even more important in pre-season is that we focus on the season to come. Robin was an exceptional leader last year, but we have learned how much we had to fight to come into third position [by the close] because we missed the start of the season.

"After seven games we had lost four and we have learned that for us it is vital to focus on the start of the season rather than on any transfers. If the transfers happen, they happen.

"As long as you are at the club you give your best for the club and that is the only pride you can have as a football player and as a manager. As long as you are somewhere you give your best every day for that club. If it changes, it changes. I am convinced that Robin is like that, he is completely focused every day on his job. He loves football, he loves the game and as long as he is here he will do that."

While Thomas Vermaelen will captain Arsenal on tour in Van Persie's absence, Wenger responded to the criticism directed at the club by Alisher Usmanov, the second largest shareholder. Usmanov believes a lack of investment in the squad has caused the seven-year trophy drought and is also the prevailing reason why the Dutchman wants to leave, just as Samir Nasri did 12 months ago.

Wenger said: "We always defend the values of the club, and the model has to be self-sustainable, otherwise it can completely go out of shape and become very fragile. The financial solidity of the club is vital and therefore I have always supported that and I will continue to do that. I believe that the financial fair play is about that. If Uefa push it through they will have a big supporter in me. Football has to work like every single company, it has to work with the money it produces itself."

Wenger also outlined how he views the role of the new £13m signing Olivier Giroud, who may prove the replacement for Van Persie should he leave. "I bought him because he's a real centre forward and he is an intelligent player," the Frenchman said of the former Montpellier player. "He is a player who develops late and I feel he can integrate into the way we play football and add something to the way we play because he is good in the air."

Of his fellow new signing Lukas Podolski, who joined for an undisclosed fee from Köln, Wenger said: "He has been chosen because he can be a goalscorer and a playmaker."

Regarding any further recruitment, Wenger added: "It depends also on how many go out because we have to respect the squad number. It's important to respect that so before we get players in we have to get some players out. That has not happened yet, the market is very quiet. We are still looking to add one or two players."


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