Lehmann backs Wenger over Van Persie
Published 22/05/2012 | 16:32
Former Arsenal goalkeeper Jens Lehmann has every confidence Arsene Wenger will once again prove himself the master tactician as the club look to tie down the future of captain Robin van Persie one way or another.
Van Persie, who netted 30 times in the league last term, still has a year left on his current deal, but talks over an extension have so far not been concluded. The Dutchman is now likely to delay any formal decision until after the European Championships, with several top clubs across Europe said to be prepared to offer lucrative terms to tempt him away.
The striker turns 29 in early August, and so the next contract he signs could well be his last. Lehmann, who was part of the Invincibles side of 2003/2004 and made 200 appearances for the Gunners, said: "Robin is now 28 and this will be his last big contract. He (Wenger) has to consider everything,"
The former German international added: "Arsene Wenger was always a master at buying and selling players at the right time. He still has the quality to evaluate the real value of Robin van Persie. He always considers the past value of the player and the future value of the player.
"Of course it would be a good sign for the supporters if Robin stayed, but when you consider his next contract could be four years, he would be 32."
Lehmann also believes if his old club can hit the ground running, then 2013 could just turn out to be a vintage year.
Arsenal had an up-and-down campaign, finishing strongly to secure third over north London rivals Tottenham, and Lehmann added: "On their day, Arsenal can always perform, but the consistency in the league was missing. You never know with them.
They are very skilled and talented players. Sometimes it just needs to click and all of a sudden they are back there again."
Arsenal later confirmed seven fringe players would be released at the end of their contracts on June 30, including goalkeeper Manuel Almunia and defender Gavin Hoyte.
Arsenal also confirmed midfielder Jack Wilshere had now undergone a "minor procedure" on his left knee as part of his continued rehabilitation from an ankle problem which ruled him out of all last term.