Wenger plans Van Persie talks
Arsene Wenger hopes to tie up the long-term future of Arsenal captain Robin van Persie before the Dutchman heads off to Euro 2012.
Holland striker Van Persie has remained free of injury to plunder 34 goals which have almost single-handedly fired the Gunners back into the top four of the Barclays Premier League, and is set to make his 50th appearance of the season for club and country against Chelsea.
Van Persie is happy to leave talks until the end of the season but Wenger said he wanted a resolution before his captain went to join up with the Netherlands squad in Switzerland on May 17. Asked about Van Persie's contract situation, Wenger said: "That will be sorted at the end of the season."
The 28-year-old's current contract expires in the summer of 2013, and there has been speculation the likes of Manchester City, Barcelona, Real Madrid and both Milan clubs are all ready to launch a multi-million auction for his services, with wages on offer of around £200,000-per-week.
Pressed on whether the resolution would be before the European Championships, Wenger replied: "Yes."
Van Persie was pictured at Barcelona's team hotel in London ahead of their midweek Champions League game against Chelsea. Wenger maintained there was nothing untoward in that.
"I am not concerned," the Arsenal manager said. "After the game you can go to have dinner. He has got friends there. [Ibrahim] Affelay, [Cesc] Fabregas. Why shouldn't he?"
Van Persie is expected to be crowned PFA Player of the Year at a gala dinner on Sunday night, which could well be followed up by the prestigious Football Writers' Association accolade.
Wenger is in no doubt about the impact of his captain on the Gunners campaign, which at one stage looked very much in crisis.
Wenger rejected suggestions the Dutchman was burnt out, saying: "When you play 50 games at that level you suffer a little bit. It is beyond expectation and for a striker it is massive."