Arsene Wenger last night insisted that his captain Robin van Persie would not be the latest Arsenal player to join Manchester City.
Van Persie, who has less than two years left on his Arsenal contract, is a very attractive proposition to City given the likely departure of Carlos Tevez in January.
Since summer 2009, Arsenal have sold Emmanuel Adebayor, Kolo Touré, Gaël Clichy and Samir Nasri to City. Although Arsenal fought harder for some than for others, Van Persie, their captain and leader in attack, is one they are desperate to keep.
The Arsenal manager insisted that his captain was staying put. "This is a story created to create a story," he said. "There is no truth in it." He demanded that if City are interested in buying Van Persie, that they should deal directly with him rather than going through any other channels: "Anybody who wants to sign one of our players, everybody has my phone number and can call me."
When asked whether a bid from City might come as early as this January, Wenger questioned City's need for a new forward, given those that they have already loaned out elsewhere. "Why should we sell players in January?" he asked. "Man City already have problems because they have too many strikers, they pay half of the League for them to play away somewhere. Why should they want to buy strikers? It's very difficult to understand."
One of Manchester City's on-loan strikers is Emmanuel Adebayor, who will face his former club in the white of Tottenham Hotspur tomorrow afternoon. Despite the controversy between Adebayor and Arsenal, based around one particularly contentious match in September 2009, Wenger was keen to praise his former player yesterday. "He is a great player," said the man who signed Adebayor from Monaco in 2006. "He is not a difficult guy to manage," he continued, "he was not one you remember to be especially difficult."
Wenger joined Arsenal 15 years ago, and said yesterday that it only took him "two days" to realise how important the north London derby was, "because when you see Pat Rice, you realise the game is important. You see that people are becoming a bit more nervous when the derby comes."
Spurs and Arsenal are arguably closer in level than they have been for years; Arsenal finished fourth last season and Tottenham fifth. Wenger acknowledged the growing strength of their north London rivals. "We know, we are no fools, that Tottenham is a good side," he said, "and it can be a difficult game but it will be less difficult if we turn up with a great performance."
Tottenham will be inspired tomorrow by the continuing presence of Luka Modric, in whom Wenger yesterday admitted an interest which pre-dated Spurs'. "We knew Modric before Tottenham knew him," he said. "We played against Dinamo Zagreb in the Champions League and he played in the same team as Eduardo against us. At the time we had Fabregas – not a bad player – but we were interested in Modric, yes."Reuse content