Wenger eager to keep Van Persie at Arsenal


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The Independent Football

Arsène Wenger has reiterated his desire to keep Robin van Persie at Arsenal, though he is realistic enough to know that, given the club's wages policy, the star striker is on course to follow Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri out of the Emirates.

Arsenal have rejected three offers for the Dutch international – from Manchester City, Juventus and Manchester United. Yesterday the United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, made a point of admitting the club had tabled a bid, and although the offer is said to have fallen well short of Wenger's valuation of around £30 million, the fact United revealed their interest could further unsettle Van Persie, who has stated that he will not sign a new contract at Arsenal ahead of his existing deal's expiry next summer.

"For me, Van Persie is one of the best strikers in the world, if not the best, and my desire is to keep him at the club." said Wenger.

"As for the rest, I will do what is in the best interests of Arsenal Football Club. That, at the moment, is where we are. There is not a lot more to say than that."

Van Persie did not travel to Asia on Arsenal's pre-season tour. However, the Gunners were keen to stress his non-involvement was due to the striker having only trained for four days since returning from holiday.

But Wenger is convinced that Van Persie will continue to give his all for Arsenal regardless of whether he eventually leaves the club.

"Robin was an exceptional leader last year," he said. "But we know how much we had to fight to come third because we missed out the start of the season. After seven games we had lost four and we have learned that for us it is vital to focus on the start of the season rather than on any transfers.

"If the transfers happen, they happen. As long as you are at the club you give your best for the club and that is the only pride you can have as a player and as a manager.

"If it changes, it changes. I am convinced that Robin is completely focused on his job. He loves football, he loves the game and as long as he is here he will do that."

United have been hit by a pre-season injury blow to their defender Chris Smalling, who will be out for up to 10 weeks after breaking a metatarsal last week.