Belfast Telegraph

Gunners show intent to keep Van Persie

Arsene Wenger believes Arsenal have signalled their intent to skipper Robin van Persie they are serious about challenging for trophies next season with the signing of Lukas Podolski.

The Holland striker is set to sit down with Arsenal at the end of the season for discussions over a contract extension, with another year left on his current deal. Wenger, though, feels the Gunners have already shown they mean business in 2012/2013 following the £11million signing of Germany international Podolski from Cologne, the transfer confirmed earlier this week.

"Great players like to be with great players, so it helps always to get them in," the Gunners boss said. "First, we want Robin to stay because he is convinced that we can play for the championship. I believe we have that."

Wenger continued: "You want the players to be happy, and the club to be happy.

"I believe that we will have an honest exchange at the end of the season and at the moment we have to put the priorities where they are, which is to qualify the club for the next Champions League and more than being obsessed about any individual situation."

Arsenal have been linked with the likes of Yann M'Vila at Rennes and Ajax defender Jan Vertonghen, whom Wenger claimed was "an interesting player" and that the Gunners "look at all the players all over Europe every week".

The Emirates Stadium club's hand in potential negotiations would be further strengthened by the guarantee of Champions League football again next season.

Victory over Norwich on Saturday in the Gunners' final home would be a step in the right direction following defeat by Wigan and successive draws against Chelsea and Stoke.

"I do not want to be in the Champions League because of Robin. I want to be in the Champions League because that is the target of the club," Wenger said.

"After, the players are part of the club and the club wants to be with the best. So tomorrow, for me, what is at stake is where the club will be at the end of the season, more than any individual player."

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