by Martin Lipton
Arsenal fans have been warned that top scorer Robin van Persie’s Emirates future is set to become a summer transfer saga.
Gunners manager Arsene Wenger had wanted the Dutchman’s intentions and plans to be sorted out before the Euros kicked off.
The Emirates chief, stung by the late-summer sales of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri a year ago – which he blamed for his side’s poor start to the campaign – wanted the club to have some certainty over whether Van Persie will be staying.
But with Manchester City’s interest in the 28-year-old as plain as the £250,000 per week they are willing to pay him to join them, Van Persie flew with the Holland squad to their Euro 2012 base in Poland with his position still unresolved.
An initial round of talks in the week after the season ended appears to have gone nowhere fast.
And now Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis has signposted weeks of doubt which could again carry through the summer – and even into the new campaign.
Gazidis said: “Robin sat down with us at the end of the season and we had a good discussion.
“What we agreed at that meeting was that we would keep all the discussions we had over the summer to ourselves and make announcements when it is the right time.
“We have to respect the fact we have agreed to keep that among ourselves.
Robin is clearly focused on the Euros at the moment and we wish him well, and at the right time we will make the right announcements.”
Van Persie has one year left on his current deal.
City signed under similar circumstances last season when the midfielder had 12 months left on his contract.
The Frenchman went on to win the Barclays Premier League with his new club, and City could offer Van Persie a bumper contract way above what he currently earns with Arsenal.
Van Persie’s value to Arsenal is clear.
The Dutchman’s 30 Barclays Premier League goals almost single-handedly rescued them from major failure last season as they fought back from a woeful start to finish third.
There were calls for Arsene Wenger’s head when Arsenal lost three of their opening five games – one of which was an 8-2 drubbing at Manchester United – but Gazidis is glad the club kept faith with their manager of 16 years.
He said: “This football club was placed under terrific pressure at times and I think, for a different club, there would have been the possibility that we would begin to fall apart, panic and make decisions that would have been bad. That is not what happened.”
Regardless of Arsenal’s turnaround, Gazidis still thinks the club underachieved last season and is determined to see them challenging for trophies again next term.
“None of this is cause for popping champagne corks at Arsenal,” the 47-year-old said. “While it is a creditable performance it is not achieving our ambition.
“We want to win the Premier League. We want to compete to win the Champions League. That is what we are planning for during the course of the summer and everything we do is geared towards that.”
Last summer Wenger dallied on replacements for Nasri, Fabregas and Gael Clichy, with Andre Santos, Per Mertesacker and Mikel Arteta all arriving on deadline day.
The new arrivals were seen as inferior to the men they replaced, but Arteta went on to have an outstanding season.
So far this summer Arsenal have already signed Germany striker Lukas Podolski and are keen on recruiting France midfielder Yann M’Vila, although he has stated he will wait until after Euro 2012 before deciding his future.
Gazidis hinted that Wenger will try to move as quickly as possible to make new additions to his squad.
“We always try and conduct our activity as early as we can,” he added. “The key for us is not the volume of signings, but that they add something to the squad.
“That is something Arsene thinks extremely carefully about and for all of the pressure he is placed under, he tends to make good decisions.”