BEIRUT: Arsenal forward Robin van Persie has dealt the club a hammerblow after announcing that he has no plans to sign an extension to his current deal which expires next summer.
The Dutchman made the announcement in a statement issued Wednesday, confirming that he no longer sees his future at the Emirates Stadium.
“As announced earlier this year I had a meeting with [Wenger] and Ivan Gazidis [club CEO] after the season,” van Persie said.
“I have kept quiet all this time out of respect and loyalty for the club ... but since there is so much speculation in the media, I think it is fair for you guys to know what’s really going on at the moment.”
“Out of my huge respect for Mr. Wenger, the players and the fans I don’t want to go into any details, but unfortunately in this meeting it has again become clear to me that we in many aspects disagree on the way Arsenal FC should move forward.
“I’ve thought long and hard about it, but I have decided not to extend my contract,” he added.
“I love the club and the fans, no matter what happens.”
The news means that Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is left with a difficult decision to make, as he will be forced either to sell his best player this summer or allow him to leave for nothing next year.
The club reacted to the news by issuing a statement on the Arsenal’s official website declaring the Gunners would accept their captain’s decision.
“We have to respect Robin’s decision not to renew his contract,” the statement read.
“Robin has one year to run on his current contract and we are confident that he will fulfill his commitments to the club.
“We are planning with ambition and confidence for next season with Arsenal's best interests in mind.”
Former Arsenal midfielder Ray Parlour said that the club must accept the news and move on. “I think he [van Persie] knew three or four months ago that he wasn’t going to stay.
“That’s football these days. People move on quickly. Arsenal have to accept it and move on.”
The 28-year-old has been in magnificent form over the past two seasons, scoring a total of 59 goals after spending much of his career on the sidelines.
If the Dutchman leaves, it will be the second successive summer that Arsenal have been forced to sell their captain, with Cesc Fabregas joining Barcelona in 2011 for 29 million pounds ($45 million).
Van Persie is widely coveted across Europe, with Juventus, Manchester City and Manchester United all interested in signing the striker.
Manchester United are to join Chelsea and Real Madrid in the race to sign Lucas Moura from Sao Paulo, with United boss Sir Alex Ferguson determined to sign the 19-year-old attacking midfielder.
The Mirror newspaper reports that the club have been scouting the player for months, with Ferguson prepared to spend up to 30 million pounds for the Brazilian international.
The Old Trafford side are hoping that if they are able to convince Moura that he is their top priority the club will steal a march on their rivals.
The diminutive midfielder made his debut for the Sao Paulo aged just 17, and has already played over 80 times for the club.
United are known to be looking for reinforcements to their midfield, with the club already having secured the signing of Japanese international Shinji Kagawa from Borussia Dortmund.
Following reports linking Liverpool’s Andy Carroll with AC Milan, former England international Mark Hatley has encouraged the player to consider the move, believing the 23-year-old would improve as a striker.
Hatley joined Milan from Portsmouth in 1984 aged just 21, spending three years at the San Siro before moving to French side Monaco.
“It would be breath of fresh air for Andy Carroll,” Hatley told talkSport. “It would be great to go away and test himself in a new environment, a new culture and a different way of living.
“That was key for my development when I was so young. I played under a young Fabio Capello at Milan. They teach you the game inside and out, that’s what they do in these countries, especially Italy.
“He’s got great strengths in his game already but he still has a lot of weaknesses. They [Milan] can deconstruct his game and build it back up again to the way a European center forward should be.”