Van Persie closer to Arsenal door
Soccer:Arsenal captain Robin Van Persie has announced he will not be renewing his contract, which is due to expire next summer, paving the way for a transfer from the Emirates this summer.
The striker said today he arrived at the decision after fundamentally disagreeing with manager Arsene Wenger and chief executive Ivan Gazidis over the direction of the club. It is almost certain to spell the end of his Arsenal career this summer, otherwise the Gunners risk losing him on a free transfer this time next year.
"As announced earlier this year, I had a meeting with the boss [Wenger] and Mr Gazidis after the season," said Van Persie today. "This was a meeting about the club's future strategy and their policy. Financial terms or a contract have not been discussed, since that is not my priority at all.
"I personally have had a great season but my goal has been to win trophies with the team and to bring the club back to its glory days. Out of my huge respect for Mr Wenger, the players and the fans I don't want to go into any details, but unfortunately in this meeting it has again become clear to me that we in many aspects disagree on the way Arsenal should move forward.
"I've thought long and hard about it, but I have decided not to extend my contract. You guys, the fans, have of course the right to disagree with my view and decision and I will always respect your opinions. I love the club and the fans, no matter what happens. I have grown up and became a man during my time with Arsenal. Everybody at the club and the fans have always supported me over the years and I have always given my all (and more) on and off the pitch.
"I am very proud of being part of this fantastic club for the last eight years. As soon as Mr Gazidis is back from his two-week holiday in America further meetings will follow and I will update you if and when there are more developments."
Wenger insisted in print today that the club must keep van Persie “at all costs”, though the Gunners have already moved to bring in fresh faces Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski.
Italian champions Juventus have made their interest clear, while Premier League winners Manchester City are said to be ready to put down an offer in the region of €22 million and more than €200,000-per-week in wages for the Holland striker.
Wenger is all too aware of just how important Van Persie (28) is to the club, after he netted 37 goals in all competitions last season as the Gunners eventually secured third place in the Premier League.
Writing in his blog for Eurosport, the Frenchman said: “We want to keep Robin van Persie at all costs, because we depend on him offensively. I have always supported him even in the hardest times, and I hope he will end his career at Arsenal.”
Giroud scored 21 goals in 36 league appearances as Montpellier claimed their first Ligue 1 title last season, and may now have to make an instant impact in England. Wenger is in no doubt the 25-year-old, signed for a reported €15 million deal, will fit right in at Emirates Stadium.
“I have known Olivier Giroud for some time,” the Frenchman added. “The first time I saw him, I found he had something intelligent and dangerous. I always said he could score goals and assist his partners.
“Our game is based on cooperation between the players in the offensive phase and he will integrate easily. I don’t like simple goalscorers, they must also add to the collective. He is good in the air which is rare. He is quite complete and has a great room for improvement.”