Van Persie will play for Arsenal against Koln, says Van Gaal

The Netherlands coach says the Gunners' skipper has told him he is expecting to feature for Arsene Wenger's side on Sunday despite speculation surrounding his future
Arsenal captain Robin van Persie will feature in his first pre-season game for the club when the Gunners take on Koln on Sunday, according to Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal.

The Dutchman’s future has been the subject of intense debate after he announced that he would not be extending his contract at the club.

Manchester United have emerged as favourites to sign the 29-year-old but, as exclusively revealed by, the player’s agent’s demands could scupper the chances of a move to Old Trafford.

However, Van Gaal says Van Persie will feature for the Gunners this weekend, before joining up with the Netherlands squad for a friendly against Belgium.

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Robin will play his first game this Sunday. He has told me he is at least going to play 45 minutes this weekend,” Van Gaal told The Mirror.

“It is a good job, because I almost had not selected him.”

Along with the other Arsenal players who were involved in Euro 2012, Van Persie was granted extended summer leave by the club.

However, the friendly against summer signing Lukas Podolski's former employers Koln completes the Gunners' pre-season preparations, so together with Oranje's match against Belgium it represents Van Persie's last chance of a run-out before the Premier League campaign gets underway.

Van Gaal is hopeful the Dutchman can get some game time against Koln as he feels he is vital to the Netherlands' hopes of success.

“Van Persie is so important for the Dutch team,” he added.

 “This is the only time I’ll pick Van Persie and Tottenham’s Rafael van der Vaart while they are not fit."

“They have not played a single game yet for their clubs and normally I don’t pick players then. In future I will only pick fit players."