Arsenal has engaged in a high-stakes game of brinksmanship with its captain, Robin van Persie. The Mirror reports Arsenal has told the star striker it plans to keep him at the club in 2012-13, even if he decides to leave as a free-agent after next season.
“Arsenal is determined to keep its prize asset this summer even if the Dutchman does not sign a new contract,” the report says. “Arsenal is prepared to take the risk of Van Persie running his current contract into next season before it expires in 2013.”
Van Persie has held off on contract talks with the North London club all season, despite its multiple offers to begin talks over a new deal. He has been linked with top clubs across Europe, as many would jump to add a goal scorer of his caliber to their ranks. Barcelona and Real Madrid are thought to be among his likely destinations should he leave the Gunners.
The free-scoring striker has bagged 28 goals in 33 games (in all competitions) for the Gunners this season. But he is said to be hesitant about extending his stay because he questions the club’s ambition. As Arsenal’s trophy drought heads toward its seventh year, the 28-year-old van Persie will reportedly look to the clubs activity in the summer transfer window as a statement of its near-term intent.
Arsenal lost its two prized assets last summer. Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri were sold to Barcelona and Manchester City respectively, and the club has yet to recover from the departures of the star midfielders.
The Gunners are currently in fourth place in the Premier League. Should they fail to qualify for next season’s UEFA Champions League, van Persie would likely push for a move to a top club.
But it seems Arsenal is determined to use the club captain’s talents to rebuild its standing in the English and European game through June 2013.