Jens Lehmann backs Arsene Wenger to make right call over Robin van Persie

 

Former Arsenal goalkeeper Jens Lehmann has every confidence Arsene Wenger will once again prove himself the master tactician as the club look to tie down the future of captain Robin van Persie one way or another.

Van Persie still has a year left on his current deal, but talks over an extension have so far not been concluded.

The Dutchman, who netted 30 Barclays Premier League goals to help fire Arsenal to a third place finish, is now likely to delay any formal decision until after the European Championships, with several top clubs across Europe said to be prepared to offer lucrative terms to temp him away from Emirates Stadium.

Van Persie turns 29 in early August, and so the next contract he signs could well be his last.

Lehmann, who won the Premier League title as part of the Invincibles side of 2003/2004, accepts his former team-mate has plenty to think about, but feels Wenger will help make the right choice for all involved.

"Robin is now 28 and this will be his last big contract. He has to consider everything," said Lehmann, 42, who had a brief spell back at his old club in 2011, making his 200th appearance in a Premier League game at Blackpool.

"Arsene Wenger was always a master at buying and selling players at the right time. He still has the quality to evaluate the real value of Robin van Persie.

"He always considers the past value of the player and the future value of the player.

"Of course it would be a good sign for the supporters if Robin stayed, but when you consider his next contract could be four years, he would be 32."

Arsenal secured third place, and with it automatic qualification into next season's Champions League, on the final day to end what had been a testing campaign on a high.

To even be in contention for the top four had seemed a long way off as the Gunners struggled for consistency earlier in the season.

Lehmann believes if his old club can hit the ground running, then 2013 could just turn out to be a vintage year.

"At the end it was a great effort from the whole team," said the former German international, who was in Munich to watch Chelsea beat Bayern and claim the Champions League trophy.

"I remember Arsene Wenger said he was quite optimistic Arsenal would get this place and finish ahead of Spurs, which didn't seem to be the case eight weeks before the end of the season."

Lehmann added: "On their day, Arsenal can always perform, but the consistency in the league was missing.

"You never know with them. They are very skilled and talented players.

"Sometimes it just needs to click and all of a sudden they are back there again."

Arsenal have already added German striker Lukas Podolski to their squad for next season, which is set to be trimmed as several fringe players leave.

Bolton, meanwhile, are keen to tie up Japan winger Ryo Miyaichi on another season-long loan as they prepare for life in the npower Championship.

Midfielder Emmanuel Frimpong is, though, determined to force his way back into the Arsenal first-team again, having been sidelined by another serious knee injury following a temporary switch to Wolves last season.

The 20-year-old said on Sky Sports: "When I had the first one people were telling me it takes ages to get back playing at the level I was playing at before and when I came back with Arsenal I think I showed everyone I was still the same player.

"Hopefully I can come back this time and show everyone I am still the same player again."

PA

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