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Jul 1, 2012

Santos: Arsenal must think big

Arsenal defender Andre Santos believes the club must be more ambitious and has urged his team-mates to set their sights on winning the Premier League and Champions League next season.

Santos, 29, arrived at Emirates Stadium last August and helped the club improve on a difficult start to 2011-12 to finish in third place and qualify for the Champions League for the 15th successive year.

But despite Arsene Wenger's side turning things around in the second half of the season they still finished trophyless for a seventh straight campaign. It is a drought that their Brazil left-back is keen to end.

"Arsenal is definitely a great club, one of the best in the world," Santos told theelastico.com. "We have got to think about winning titles: English champions, European champions.

"Those are certainly the objectives for next season. Arsenal must think big... I have had a few targets in my mind: to be English champions and win titles. To make the supporters, who steer us forward and always fill the stadium, happy. Ensure that Arsenal get back to where they belong: at the top."

Wenger has already added firepower to his squad this summer with the acquisitions of Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud from Cologne and Montpellier respectively. However, keeping hold of captain Robin van Persie is widely regarded as the key to the Gunners' chances of success next season, with Santos hoping the Dutchman agrees to stay.

"Van Persie has an excellent campaign behind him," Santos said. "I do not know what his situation at the club is now - whether he stays or not. He loves the club and is already eight years at the club and his season was really incredible.

"Arsenal will definitely talk to him and do everything to keep him at the club so he can help us next season. At this time I hope he makes the choice that is best for his career and his life. But no doubt that our players want Van Persie to remain.

"Robin is an excellent player and striker. He is one of few world class strikers today. He has definitely proven that this season. He is fantastic, both on and off the field. He helps our team a lot and I think he can play for any club in the world."

Santos admitted that his first season in English football has been a steep learning curve but, despite missing several months through injury, he believes he has learned to adapt to life in the Premier League.

"In Brazil, you always attack. In Europe it's the opposite: you cannot attack. It is therefore difficult for a Brazilian player [in my position], when he travels to Europe to adapt himself to this mentality.

"He cannot attack, but has to defend. But thanks to my time at Fenerbahce, I learned enough in terms of defensive work and positional play. The Premier League is obviously one of the best leagues in the world. The defence is an important part of it and I have learned a lot this season.

"It is certainly true that I am technically skilful and rather quick. Today I learn how to mark and support the attack when going forward, but next season I hope to make progress for Arsenal so I can become a regular starter... What I have not been able to show this season, I can still show next season. Arsenal will definitely give me that opportunity and Andre Santos will show what he has got in his stride."

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