Arsenal supporters mourning the club's exit from the Champions League at the hands of Milan will be cheered today by the news that Arsène Wenger expects to agree the signing of Lukas Podolski by the end of this month, and insists Robin van Persie will not be leaving for Manchester City, or anyone else.
Although initially claiming he was "nowhere close" to a deal with Podolski, the Cologne and Germany striker, Wenger told German reporters that he expects arrangements for a player he was first interested in four years ago to be completed in "two to three weeks" at the latest. His enthusiasm when discussing the Poland-born attacker made it sound even more like a done deal.
"He is a good attacker, a sharp player. He is not just a player who makes and scores the goals, he is also a team player and that's what I really like. He can play for us because he can play central, he can play right and he can play on the left. He has 96 caps for Germany and is 26 years old which is the best age. He's available at a reasonable price if we can reach at agreement."
Van Persie, whose contract expires next year, will take the signing of players such as Podolski as a sign of the club's willingness to match his ambitions, which are assumed to be more of an issue than his wages. "He doesn't struggle to finish his month," Wenger agreed. "We want to keep Robin van Persie, that is clear; we will do everything possible to extend his contract, that is clear; and apart from that, I can only let people talk." One of those talking has been Roberto Mancini, the City manager, who said this week: "We are interested in good players; I think all the good teams are interested in Van Persie."
Last summer, Wenger described comments made by Mancini about Samir Nasri, who did join City, as "disrespectful" and "out of order," but although he downplayed the Italian's more recent remarks, he was adamant his captain will not be following Nasri. "I read what Mancini said," Wenger said. "It's not so bad. We will not lose anybody to Manchester City, or to anybody else because we want to keep our players."