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Wenger concedes that Van Persie could leave Arsenal

The Gunners boss has seemingly gone back on his initial stance, admitting that the much-coveted striker could depart north London amid interest from Manchester United and City

Arsene Wenger has admitted that Robin van Persie could leave Arsenal before the Premier League season starts.

Despite the Dutchman's refusal to sign a new contract with the Gunners, Wenger insists that the club's main aim is to keep the skipper at the Emirates, but hinted that he would prefer any deal to be done before domestic action gets underway.

Wenger told reporters: "We are very, very ambitious. You know that. Not only very ambitious but also very proud of the way we run our club.

"Van Persie is a world-class striker and I am a big supporter of him. I have supported him throughout.

"He has one year left and is in demand but our desire is to keep him, however, we will do what is in best interest of the club. If you have a decoder in your head you can decode that.

"The official transfer deadline is August 31 but then we can create an internal deadline."
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When asked if that would be before the start of the current campaign, the 62-year-old replied: "Of course. I believe the transfer market should stop before the season starts anyway."

The Frenchman also dismissed claims that a move for Van Persie could destabilise the Gunners' squad, pointing to the arrivals of Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud as proof that Arsenal can still be successful if the Dutchman does leave the Emirates.

Wenger continued: "The situation is not the same as last season [when Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri left] because we have a squad that is solid and used to playing together.

"We have bought two strikers in Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski.

"The seriousness of last year’s situation was made difficult for us by injuries, not only through the transfer market."

The former Monaco boss also highlighted his doubts that Van Persie was behind the statement issued on the Dutchman's official website, that claimed he would refuse any offer of a new deal with the club.

He noted: "I wouldn’t like to comment too much on that situation because you’re not always sure that it’s Van Persie’s statement, you know."

Theo Walcott is also entering the final year of his contract, and has similarly been linked with a departure from north London, and while Wenger insisted he also wanted to keep the England international, he hinted that he is confident Walcott could be replaced from within the squad.

And Wenger said: "The contractual situation is the same. They both have one year and the selection of the tour is not linked to that.

"We will see. We sort these situations out always in the best interests of the club. We have plenty of young players and you see Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain here.

"We have plenty of young players. We bought Walcott when he was young and we want to keep our players. We always want to keep them."
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