By ANTONY KASTRINAKIS
ARSENAL fans last night turned on Robin van Persie and hailed two-goal Lukas Podolski as their new hero.
Boss Arsene Wenger watched his side thrash Cologne and then did not rule out the club forcing wantaway Van Persie to see out the last year on his contract.
Manchester United have yet to match Arsenal’s £25million valuation and the Gunners are digging in their heels over the deal with just a week to go before the season kicks off.
The Dutchman came on for the last 20 minutes and was booed by a large section of the 1,500 Arsenal fans who had travelled to Germany.
Wenger said: “There’s no news on Van Persie. Our fans want him to stay so you can understand they are excited.
“Anything I could say about Van Persie would be a lie because he’s our player and that’s it.
“Robin scored 30 goals last season and you want to keep your best player.
“He was player of the year in England. We want to keep him. I cannot tell you more at the moment because I don’t know more.”
Podolski netted a penalty after Thomas Vermaelen’s opener. The German then finished a great move to grab Arsenal’s third before the interval. Gervinho rounded things off after the restart.
In a clear snub to Van Persie, Gunners fans chanted ‘Lucas Podolski, he scores when he wants’ — replacing the Dutchman’s name from their favourite chant.
Some Arsenal fans cheered when Van Persie came on but there was no doubting the anger among many.
He was hit by a wall of boos just before the end when he chased a ball close to the Arsenal contingent.
Van Persie did not travel back with Arsenal and sources said a car was set to take him straight to Holland to join up with his national team-mates for the friendly with Belgium.
Wenger’s other summer signings — £12m Olivier Giroud and £17m Santi Cazorla — also impressed after getting their debuts in the first half.
The Arsenal boss added: “We have not bought the players to replace Van Persie, but to strengthen our squad with the thinking Van Persie will stay. That’s still my mind at the moment.”
Podolski beamed: “First match and first goals.
“I was very surprised by the reaction of the Arsenal fans. I heard them chanting my name and it was crazy.
“I have felt part of Arsenal from the first day, to score in my first match was great.
“I need another two weeks to be fully ready.”