If Sky Sports News presenters are in the midst of searching for a transfer saga to follow in the footballing lull after the Euros this summer, they shouldn’t bother turning up to their usual jackpot site – the Emirates Stadium.
That’s according to Arsene Wenger, who today defiantly predicted that the future of Robin van Persie would be “sorted at the end of the season – before the Euros.”
Having seen a number of his best players involved in lengthy transfer feuds in summer’s past, Arsene Wenger is determined to avoid such a carry-on with the man tipped to claim both player of the year awards.
Anelka, Vieira, Henry and more recently Flamini, Nasri and Fabregas – the list of players Arsenal have failed in a fight to keep from European heavyweights during Wenger’s reign does not make light reading for Gunners’ fans.
So it’s understandable that nagging doubts and feelings of deja-vu must be bothering fans and management alike in north London as the likes of Juventus, Real Madrid and Inter Milan have been linked with moves for the Dutchman, whose contract runs until the summer of 2013.
However, Wenger is ready to learn from mistakes made when previously attempting to tie down integral first-teamers, and today insisted that Van Persie’s future would be sorted out – one way or the other – before the start of the European Championships.
The Arsenal boss won’t have much time – Arsenal’s final game of the season at West Brom is on May 13th, while Van Persie will be required to report for Holland just four days later.
Champions League qualification will be vital should Wenger have any chance of keeping the forward who has scored 34 goals in all competitions this season despite playing in a side that started slowly and has been inconsistent at best throughout.
However even that may not be enough to keep hold of the man who has been at Arsenal for eight years, meaning he too is without club honours since an FA Cup win in 2005. Van Persie will be 29 this August, and will know he is only likely to play at his peak for another two or three years.
Despite his confident assertions, Wenger could well be faced with a familiar summer dilemma – keep his star striker for one more year and risk losing him for free next summer, or cash in while he still can?
Given the route the financially-astute club have gone in times past, Gunners fans should be preparing themselves for another heartbreaking departure.