- Premier League
Keown calls for Van Persie patience as exit talk grows
Former Arsenal defender Martin Keown says the club must give Robin van Persie time to decide his future.
Van Persie, whose current contract expires in a year's time, held talks with Arsenal this week and is reported to have told the club that he will not commit to an extension at this stage as he is eager to examine any offers that come in.
The Guardian newspaper reports that Manchester City are confident of landing Van Persie, though they may face competition from Juventus, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Manchester United. It was also claimed in the Sunday Mirror that Anzhi Makhachkala have expressed an interest, with Guus Hiddink suggesting the club will make two marquee signings this summer and adding: "Initially I was not going to put my eye on a Dutch player, but now I am not ruling out that this could take place."
City are said to be willing to offer the 28-year-old more than £250,000 a week, while Anzhi are reportedly offering over £300,000 a week tax-free.
Keown feels that Van Persie will not be tempted by the riches on offer and that Arsenal should give their captain the time he needs in the hope that his heart will rule his head.
"We need to give Robin time and not suffocate him," Keown said. "Robin understands and we all understand he is very much a special player for Arsenal. The adulation and respect which he has at Arsenal - Robin has worked a footballing lifetime to get that.
"If he leaves, he might find it hard to grow into another club with the respect he has here. However, he might feel he wants to go to a club where he thinks he can win things - that is probably the dilemma for him, rather than the financial one.
"It is swapping the love for him here if he goes to another club. He might find it a little bit of a difficult transition which he does not want to make."
Keown added: "It is his heart against his head. It would be quite refreshing if a player decides: 'This is my club. I am not going to play anywhere else and am going to show that faith and trust which was shown in me. I am going to believe in the project Arsenal have'.
"We will have to see what answer he comes up with, but of course Arsenal are desperate for him to stay and have lost too many players in the past. If Van Persie was to go as well, it would take them a number of years to recover from that."
The Gunners are understood to have deep concerns over their striker's future, and the Dutch FA has confirmed that Van Persie will not speak to the media while on duty for Netherlands this summer. "We made a deal with Arsenal and he won't talk to the press," a KNVB spokesman said.