Robin Van Persie: I didn't believe I could play as a main striker for Arsenal

Arsenal star finally banishes doubts over role after best-ever campaign in front of goal

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The Independent Football

Robin van Persie has admitted he was far from confident he could play as a main striker, but now believes he can become even more lethal in front of goal. The Arsenal captain has developed into one of the most feared centre-forwards in the world, and looks set to breach the 40-goal barrier for club and country this season.

The Netherlands star, 28, only began spearheading the Gunners attack two years ago after manager Arsène Wenger sold Emmanuel Adebayor to Manchester City. Before then, Van Persie played almost exclusively as a second striker, the kind of role fellow Dutchman Dennis Bergkamp made his own at the club.

"That was the idea from day one," Van Persie said. "I never really thought that I would end up as a main striker.I actually never played there before – I did it a couple of times at youth level but it was nothing really special.

"We only tried it when Adebayor went. The boss didn't buy someone else because he was convinced I could do it. I wasn't even convinced about it. I wasn't so sure, because I didn't really play there so much.

"Then, in pre-season, we had a game against Inter Milan. I scored a good goal, played well and he told me after the game, 'You see? It will work'.

"That was the first step to being a main striker," Van Persie told Arsenal Player. "Sometimes, you just question yourself, if you're good enough at it. Those answers came. I just didn't know, and now I believe. Let's see where it ends. Let's see how far I can push myself, see where my maximum lies."

Van Persie's exploits have made him the hot favourite to be crowned PFA Player of the Year on Sunday. They have also made him one of the most coveted strikers in the world and he has been linked with moves to City, Barcelona and Real Madrid.

Van Persie has one year left on his Arsenal contract and has declared he will not make a decision about his long-term future until the end of the season.

Arsenal fans will understandably be concerned by his presence at Barcelona's team hotel earlier this week ahead of the Catalans' Champions League clash with Chelsea. He was spotted talking to his international team-mate Ibrahim Afellay.

Van Persie extending his Arsenal contract may depend on how ambitious they are in the transfer market this summer, with the impending arrival of Germany star Lukas Podolski certainly a step in the right direction.

Wenger will be hoping Podolski settles as quickly as summer signing Andre Santos. The Brazilian left-back has revealed how fellow new boy Mikel Arteta has done all he can to help him fit in. "Mikel Arteta is Spanish and our languages are quite similar so he is helping me the most," Santos, who speaks Portuguese, said.

"He is always giving me instructions about the Premier League. He played for Everton for a long time and arrived at Arsenal at the same time as I did so he helped me settle."