Old master Bergkamp to play on

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The Independent Football

He is the man whose signing finally broke the Arsenal wage structure back in 1995 and yet he refuses to fly to Champions' League matches. At 35, his stamina is not quite what it should be and after three goals in four matches, he will be due a rest soon - but Dennis Bergkamp now looks like he will stay another season at Arsenal.

He is the man whose signing finally broke the Arsenal wage structure back in 1995 and yet he refuses to fly to Champions' League matches. At 35, his stamina is not quite what it should be and after three goals in four matches, he will be due a rest soon - but Dennis Bergkamp now looks like he will stay another season at Arsenal.

After 10 years at Highbury, the Dutch striker will sit down with Arsène Wenger in May to decide his future, which now looks like it will include another season at the club that bought him from Internazionale for £7.5m. Wenger is anxious that Bergkamp's last season does not tarnish his legacy at Arsenal but he admitted that players of the Dutchman's quality are "non-existent at the moment."

Bergkamp hinted last month that he would like one more year at Arsenal after signing a one-year extension to his deal to keep him at the club this season. Wenger made the first significant move to keep the striker for another season when he said this week that there would be "no question" of Bergkamp leaving if he continues the form that has brought him goals against Newcastle, Manchester United and, most recently, Crystal Palace on Monday night.

Wenger said: "We sit down together every May and once we have adopted that, we don't want to change that attitude after every good game. Otherwise, we could change it after a bad game as well. We will keep that going.

"We know Dennis is committed to the club. To find another player like Dennis tomorrow would be a tough job. So we will continue, of course, as long as we can. I feel we manage him well and don't make him travel too much.

"He gets the benefit of that and is a great example to young players. He has led a real top professional life for his whole career. You never see him out - he has three kids at home and that's a good way to keep you there. You never see him drinking and between 30 and 36 or 37, that makes a huge difference. To play up front at nearly 36, you don't usually find that. He is getting rewarded for the quality of his life."

With Robin van Persie and Jose Antonio Reyes yet to convince Wenger that they are the natural successors to Bergkamp as Thierry Henry's striker partner - and little money available to recruit another striker this summer - the option of re-signing the Dutchman will be tempting. Bergkamp, who will not play in Arsenal's Champions' League away tie against Bayern Munich next week is reported to have amassed a personal fortune of £37m during his career in England.

Henry said that he hoped Bergkamp would stay another season. "You can talk about him all night, the way he plays, the way he sets up people, the way he sees the game," he said.

"The thing I love about Dennis is that he can beat a team with just one pass. He sees things that other people can't see and just try to give you the ball."

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