Van Persie: We have big potential
Robin van Persie has called on Arsenal fans to trust Arsene Wenger and keep faith in his young team. The Dutchman, 25, committed his long-term future to the Gunners yesterday by signing a new contract, which is reported to be worth around £80,000 per week over five years.
The deal to tie up Van Persie was one of several completed by Arsenal, with England winger Theo Walcott agreeing a contract extension in May and youngsters Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey and Kieran Gibbs all following suit this summer. Yet so far, Belgium defender Thomas Vermaelen remains the only addition to Wenger's first-team squad.
The Frenchman has long championed the potential of his young side, which reached the semi-finals of both the UEFA Champions League and FA Cup last season. However, a small number of Arsenal fans have questioned whether such a policy can really challenge the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea once again, with their last trophy, the FA Cup, coming back in 2005.
Van Persie, though, is in no doubt Arsenal continue to head in the right direction under the guidance of Wenger. "There is ambition. I have spoken to both the boss and [chief executive] Ivan [Gazidis] about it," he told Arsenal TV Online.
"They have really worked to get a really good team for next year. The boss got some stick from some of the fans last season, but if you look at the reaction at the end of the last game, that was tremendous and is the way all of the fans should react.
"I trust him and my message to everyone is: be patient, trust the team and the people above. This team has lots of potential and it is really important we stay together and fight for the same thing."
England youth international Wilshere, 17, is one player expected to have an impressive 2009/10 campaign, having broken into the first-team squad. "It almost makes me scared when I see him play, so he has massive potential," enthused Van Persie.
Despite pledging his future to Arsenal, captain Cesc Fabregas continues to be linked with a £40m move to Spain. The on-off saga of Brazilian Felipe Melo's move to Juventus means Udinese's Swiss midfielder Gokhan Inler has re-emerged as a potential target for Wenger. Arsenal are also said to be tracking Saint-Etienne's Blaise Matuidi and Newcastle United defender Sebastien Bassong, 22.
The Gunners are set to head off to an Austrian training camp as part of their pre-season preparations. While they have, so far, resisted lucrative offers to tour further afield, to Asia and the USA, that position may change in the future.
Out-going Arsenal commercial director Adrian Ford said in the South China Morning Post: "This is something all clubs are looking at and will look to be ambitious in their expansion plans to try to develop. We will be no different."