Arsenal determined to keep Robin van Persie

 

Arsenal will be determined to have captain Robin van Persie spearhead their attack alongside expected summer recruit Lukas Podolski next season.

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has fuelled speculation of another big-money raid on Emirates Stadium for the Holland striker, who has yet to sign a contract extension, hailing the Gunners skipper as "one of the best strikers in Europe".

Those public comments from a rival manager are not likely to have been well received by Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, who over the past few years has seen Emmanuel Adebayor, Kolo Toure, Gael Clichy and Samir Nasri all join City for significant wage increases than on offer from the Gunners.

Van Persie, who has netted 32 goals in a stand-out individual campaign, insists he is comfortable to wait until the end of the season before sitting down with Arsenal to try to thrash out a new deal, with his current terms expiring in the summer of 2013.

Wenger has already publicly stated the club will "do anything possible" to retain the services of their talisman, who has grown into his role as captain following Cesc Fabregas' sale to Barcelona.

That is said to possibly include the offer of a £5million 'loyalty' bonus as well as improved terms.

It goes without saying Arsenal's hand would be strengthened with another opportunity of Champions League football, with Wenger's side now fully focused on delivering a top-four finish having bowed out of Europe despite a 3-0 home win over AC Milan on Tuesday night.

In the post-match press conference, Wenger was asked about revelations from Gunners defender Per Mertesacker, currently recovering from an ankle injury, that he and German team-mate Podolski had been exchanging text messages over life at Arsenal.

Wenger laughed off the subject, quipping "you would like me to explain what I cannot explain", but it appears a deal has now been struck with Cologne, reported to be in the region of £11million.

Poland-born forward Podolski, 26, has played at two European Championships and World Cup tournaments, so would offer a much-needed option for Wenger alongside Van Persie, with Marouane Chamakh and Park Ju-young both failing to make an impact.

Arsenal have built up some momentum in the weeks since their Champions League first leg 4-0 humbling in Milan, which was swiftly followed by exit from the FA Cup at Sunderland.

However, despite morale-boosting wins over Tottenham and Liverpool, there remains little margin for error.

Indeed, the Gunners could be back down to fifth should Chelsea beat Stoke on Saturday, while third-placed Spurs could extend their current four-point cushion with a positive result at Everton ahead of Arsenal's live Monday night clash against Newcastle, who are themselves not yet out of contention.

Wenger, who was charged with improper conduct by UEFA for his post-match comments to Slovenian referee Damir Skomina following the midweek defeat to Milan, said: "For us, it is clear, we have to win our games."

Arsenal have concerns over the fitness of Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who both picked up knocks against Milan.

Mikel Arteta had to miss the game as a precaution following mild concussion, while Aaron Ramsey has been sidelined by an ankle problem.

Midfielder Abou Diaby endured a frustrating return from his latest comeback, breaking down with a hamstring strain after a substitute appearance at Liverpool.

The 25-year-old, though, insists he will soon return - and as strong as a "beast".

In an interview with French media, reproduced on the official Arsenal website, Diaby said: "I get injured. It is a fact, but when people tell you you're fragile, it hurts.

"I have had three operations on my ankle, all for different problems, but the result of that was that my body is unbalanced, especially in my legs.

"Today my ankle is twice as big because of the surgery. My problem is a biomechanical problem. I need to work daily on how to rebalance my body."

Diaby added: "I still have a big future. Physically, I really feel very good, like a beast.

"I have never been as motivated as I am now. I want to prove to everybody, and especially to myself, that I can do it.

"I have faith in what I am doing. I will never give up and I know that I will come out of this tunnel."

Diaby expects his latest lay-off to be minor.

He said: "Unfortunately, I had that little problem at Liverpool, but it is nothing serious and I will start running again at the end of the week."

PA

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tvWhy BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
News
Kelly Osbourne will play a flight attendant in Sharknado 2
people
News
A bartender serves beers
news
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Craig and Rory Kinnear film Spectre in London
film
Life and Style
The finale at Dolce and Gabbana autumn/winter 2015
fashion
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?