ARSENE WENGER HAS repeated his desire to ensure his wantaway captain Robin van Persie remains an Arsenal player.
The Dutchman, last season’s Premier League top goalscorer, released a statement earlier this month in which he said he was unwilling to sign an extension to his contract that is due to expire next year.
Manchester City, Manchester United and Juventus are all monitoring the 29-year-old’s position.
But Wenger, who is expected to confirm a lack of fitness as the reason for his captain’s failure to take part in the club’s pre-season tour of Asia, believes he will succeed in ensuring van Persie remains in north London.
“For me, 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,” he told the club’s website. ”As for the rest, I will do what is in the best interests of Arsenal Football Club. That, at the moment, is where we are. There is not a lot more to say than that.”
The uncertainty that surrounds van Persie’s future is threatening to undermine Arsenal’s build-up to the new campaign. It was a similar case last year when the transfer sagas of Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas cast a cloud over the club, and Wenger is aware of the need to avoid a repeat scenario.
“Robin was an exceptional leader last year, but we know how much we had to fight to come third because we missed out the start of the season,” Wenger said. ”After seven games we had lost four and we have learned that for us it is vital for us 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,” he added.