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Wenger defiant as Van Persie misses Arsenal tour

ESPN staff
July 21, 2012 « Faber and Barao both make weight for UFC 149 clash | Chartbeat test »

Arsene Wenger insists he wants to keep Robin van Persie at Arsenal but has left the striker out of the 24-man squad for the upcoming Asia tour.

Sir Alex Ferguson confirmed to MUTV on Friday that Manchester United have made a bid for Van Persie, while it is widely reported that Manchester City and Juventus have also made concrete offers.

Arsenal would appear pessimistic about their chances of keeping the striker given the confirmation on Saturday morning that Van Persie, the club captain, will not be part of the travelling party when the squad fly out to Malaysia.

However, it is clear that none of the current offers have met with the Gunners' approval and Wenger, who insists he left Van Persie at home due to his involvement at Euro 2012, says he remains hopeful that the Netherlands international will remain at the Emirates.

"For me, Van Persie is one of the best strikers in the world, if not the best, and my desire is to keep him at the club," he told Arsenal Player. "As for the rest, I will do what is in the best interests of Arsenal Football Club. That, at the moment, is where we are. There is not a lot more to say than that."

Explaining Van Persie's absence from the 24-man tour party, Wenger said: "Some of them [will not go on tour] because they are too far behind to be competitive, but most of them will go. The German players [Lukas Podolski and Per Mertesacker] are just back in training on Saturday so they will be late. Some players have to work on their fitness so are a bit behind, like Van Persie, like [Laurent] Koscielny, like [Olivier] Giroud, who came in later. They are not ready to play games."

Wenger has already indicated that he is eager to avoid a repeat of last season's transfer business, when the late sales of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri left preparations for the new season in disarray, but he is confident that Van Persie would maintain a professional approach should he see out the final year of his contract at Arsenal.

"Robin was an exceptional leader last year, but we know how much we had to fight to come third because we missed out the start of the season," he said. "After seven games we had lost four and we have learned that for us it is vital for us to focus on the start of the season rather than on any transfers.

"If the transfers happen, they happen. As long as you are at the club you give your best for the club and that is the only pride you can have as a football player and as a manager.

"As long as you are somewhere you give your best every day for that club. If it changes, it changes. I am convinced that Robin is like that - he is completely focused every day on his job. He loves football, he loves the game and as long as he is here he will do that."

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