Daily Dispatch

Arsenal willing to dig deeper for Van Persie

- By JEREMY WILSON

ARSENAL are ready to make Robin van Persie the highest paid player in their history when they finally sit down for crunch contract talks with their captain today.

The club believe that sporting factors will shape Van Persie’s decision as much as their financial package, but they are also ready to offer a huge signing-on fee of around £5-million (R65-million) as well as wages of £130 000-a-week.

That dwarfs the salaries that were previously paid to Cesc Fabregas and Thierry Henry, although does remain well short of the riches that could be on offer at Manchester City or Chelsea. Fernando Torres, who has scored 30 fewer goals this season, for example, is on double Van Persie’s weekly wage of £90 000-a-week.

The talks will be attended by Van Persie and his representa­tives as well as Arsène Wenger, the Arsenal manager, and chief executive Ivan Gazidis. Wenger will focus on his on-field vision for Arsenal and a belief that the club will challenge for next season’s Premier League title.

Arsenal secured Champions League football for a 15th consecutiv­e season on Sunday and have already sealed the £10.9-million signing of Germany forward Lukas Podolski.

The north London club’s hope for today’s meeting is that Van Persie will signal a willingnes­s to stay, ahead of detailed negotiatio­ns over a contract that would keep him at Arsenal for the rest of his career.

One potential sticking point is the length of any new contract. Despite his outstandin­g recent form, there is still a debate over whether Van Persie, who turns 29 this year and has a very mixed injury record, should be offered a three- or four-year deal.

Van Persie is expected to push for four years but Wenger has proved in the past that he will not stretch the club’s resources beyond what he regards as sensible. As well as Manchester City, Juventus are also emerging as a serious option although it is understood that an offer from either Real Madrid or Barcelona would prove most tempting to Van Persie.

Wenger has said that he hopes to resolve the issue before Euro 2012 but it could easily rumble if Van Persie decides to wait and see what options emerge.

Arsenal regard their Plan B as keeping Van Persie to his contract for another season, even if that would then risk losing him for nothing next year. Talks will also be held imminently with Theo Walcott who, like Van Persie, is out of contract in 2013. — ©The Daily Telegraph

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