Arsène Wenger said yesterday that Arsenal are determined to tie up a new contract for Robin van Persie between the end of the season and the start of Euro 2012, although that leaves the club only a matter of days to do a deal.
Van Persie, 28, is out of contract at the end of next season and this summer is viewed as crucial in deciding his future. Signing the captain to a long-term contract is fundamental to the club's future to prevent another captain, and key player, leaving Arsenal in the same way as Patrick Vieira, Thierry Henry and Cesc Fabregas have done over recent years.
The season ends on 13 May and four days later the Netherlands squad depart for their Swiss training base. They play their first game against Denmark on 9 June. Asked about Van Persie's contract, Wenger said: "That will be sorted at the end of the season." The Arsenal manager also confirmed it would be before the European Championship.
Today's game will be Van Persie's 50th of the season for club and country, over the course of which he has scored 38 goals, a record Wenger described as "beyond expectation". He said it was natural the striker looked jaded against Wigan. "When you play 50 games at that level you suffer a little bit. But on the actual night I think he suffered because we didn't create a lot and you have to give Wigan credit for that."
"It's important for him to get a breather before the European Championships. That will be very important. He is physically good. He has a very healthy life, very focused on football – he takes care of everything. That's why he manages to do that. He is like Thierry Henry in that respect."