Van Basten Exclusive: Arsenal need to buy FOUR to keep RvP
Published 22:27 10/03/12 By Bill Mills
Marco Van Basten believes Arsenal can persuade Robin van Persie to stay – if they launch a £65million summer spending spree.
Van Basten, once the world’s greatest player and more recently Van Persie’s international coach, remains close to the Arsenal skipper and the club’s hierarchy. He prepared for his UEFA coaching badges by spending time with the Gunners.
There are four major signings on manager Arsene Wenger’s shopping list – Ajax defender Jan Vertongen, Germany internationals Lukas Podolski and Mario Goetze, and Athletico Bilbao’s powerful midfielder Javier Martinez.
Arsenal are also looking for an experienced keeper to back up their outstanding youngster Wojciech Szczesny.
Van Basten said: “Arsenal have a few guys behind the scenes who really do want to spend big money on players.
“So far the club have not wanted to give in to these guys. But there comes a point when a player like Robin can say if that remains the philosophy of the club, then he’ll have to move on.
“I really do know that a few guys have loads of money. How do I know this? I meet people in football.
“There is a logical reason for Robin to leave if he wants to win trophies. But he can turn round to the board and the manager and say: ‘Look, I enjoy life here at Arsenal. Why would I leave? But you have to make new signings.’
“If I was Robin, I’d tell the club he wants to win things with Arsenal. And he can also say, ‘If you – the board and the management – cannot fulfil my ambitions, I will have to go.”
Arsenal boss Wenger knows he has to improve both the quality and depth of his squad. Van Persie, who has 15 months to run on his contract, has shelved talks until the summer.
The Gunners’ talisman has scored 32 goals in all competitions this season to emphasise his value. He wants to see some quality additions to share the burden of making Arsenal trophy winners after a seven-year drought.
Arsenal are close to sealing a £12m deal with Cologne for striker Podolski, who is out of contract in June 2013.
Goetze, an attacking midfielder at Borussia Dortmund, will cost around £20m, while a similar fee will land 23-year-old Martinez from Bilbao.
Martinez is a 6ft 3in defensive midfielder, who also plays centre-back. He was outstanding in Bilbao’s 3-2 Europa League win over Manchester United last week.
Arsenal have been accused of dithering in the transfer market, but Wenger will move quickly to land his prime targets this summer.
Van Basten added: “The Arsenal squad has to be bigger and stronger. That will never guarantee trophies, but it will increase the chances.
“Robin must get the feeling Arsenal will have a squad this summer which can compete with the best teams in England and Europe. They cannot turn around and tell him they are selling the best players, like last summer.
“They have a gem like Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, but at the top of European football you also need experience.
“So they need a few players of more maturity – and then you can get Robin to stay.”
The Big Four...
The powerfully-built Basque is still only 23 but could prove to be the long term successor to Patrick Vieira as Arsenal’s midfield hard man.
A tough, quick defender who can play across the defence and as a midfield holding man. Belgium international team-mate, and close friend, of Arsenal’s best centre-back Thomas Vermaelen.
Quick, stylish attacking midfielder who has been a key part in the new, resurgent Germany team. Could provide the creative touch from the flanks previously supplied by Samir Nasri.
The 26 year-old Cologne striker has been a long-standing target for Arsene Wenger. The Arsenal boss sees Podolski as an ideal partner for Robin van Persie.