LONDON: Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is confident that captain Robin Van Persie will stay at Arsenal next season and be happy for the club to reject any summer offers after intense speculation about a bid from Italian champions Juventus.
Van Persie has yet to resolve his future. He has one year left to run on his current contract and held preliminary talks with Arsenal before he left for Holland’s disastrous Euro 2012 campaign.
The 28-year-old was league top scorer last season and claimed 37 goals in all competition to help lift Arsenal – after a terrible start to the season – into third place and back into the Champions League.
Wenger said: “I am certain that Robin will remain with us. If you want to know why I am so certain is that Robin will remain with us is because there is no reason in this world why a great player like Van Persie should go and play in Italy where the football is at an inferior level to the Premier League.”
That does not rule out the possibility that Manchester City, long interested in Van Persie, will test Arsenal’s resolve. The fact that Arsenal appear to be stock-piling new forwards has suggested that Wenger does not want to be caught out if Van Persie follows the example set last year by Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri and leave at the last possible moment.
Arsenal have secured the arrival of Germany’s Lukas Podolski from Koln, are delighted with the progress made by England new boy Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and are close to concluding a £13m purchase of France forward Olivier Giroud from Montpellier. Giroud, 25, scored 25 goals last season to help Montpellier win the French league title.
More is expected this coming season of Gervinho, who arrived only last year from Lille for £10.5m and scored four goals in 19 league appearances.
If the Giroud deal is completed then – whatever happens with Van Persie – Arsenal would still appear over-stocked with forwards. They are prepared to sell off fringe forwards such as Denmark striker Nicklas Bendtner, Morocco international Marouane Chamakh and Mexican Carlos Vela.
The likely ‘foundation shape’ of Arsenal’s attack next season features Van Persie playing ahead of a three-man spread of England’s Theo Walcott and Podolski on wide right and left with Giroud and/or Oxlade-Chamberlain inbetween them and Gervinho pushing all of them for a starting place.
Walcott is not, physically, the most resilient forward at Arsenal and Oxlade-Chamberlain is only 19 so the other forwards should have plenty of opportunities to make their mark in a busy schedule featuring Premier League, Champions League, League Cup and – from January – FA Cup.
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