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 Posted by ESPN Staff
May 12, 2009

Van Persie urges squad to stick together

Arsenal forward Robin van Persie has called on the club to keep their top players this summer and avoid a repeat of the major departures of a year ago.

The Gunners lost Mathieu Flamini, Alexander Hleb and Gilberto Silva at the end of last season, and Van Persie has stressed the importance of keeping the current squad together.

Gael Clichy is on Real Madrid's radar, according to Spanish sources, while Emmanuel Adebayor has endured a frustrating season, but Theo Walcott has agreed a new deal and Van Persie is expected to do the same.

"The main thing for me is that we stay together,'' Van Persie said. "If we lose three or four every year it is hard to get the spirit in. Hopefully we can stay here and have a real go at it.

"If we can produce games like we did this year there is room for improvement - if you look at our midfield it is between 20 and 22.''

Centre-back Kolo Toure has hinted that he is ready to pledge his future to the club and play his part in keeping the squad together.

Toure said: "There is still time on my contract and I hope the club will show that they need me.

"When you love somebody it's important that they love you back. I have loved this club for years and I always give everything for the team.

"I have been here a long time and when I saw some players leaving the club last year that was difficult for me. Then when we didn't start the season well I was scared.

"You start to think that maybe the club don't need you any more. When it's like that and you are 28 you have to think about yourself as well. But I came back, I'm playing at the moment and I hope that will carry on.''

The Gunners will finish fourth in the Barclays Premier League this season and will go half a decade without a trophy now their challenge for silverware is over, with calls from former players like Emmanuel Petit for boss Arsene Wenger to spend big.

Wenger bought Andrey Arshavin in January but does not expect more changes when the transfer window opens.

"We have a team who is 22-years-old (on average), why should we look for revolution?'' Wenger said. "That would be stupid and not responsible.

"I still believe that when you have responsibilities, you have to make decisions and stand up for that. Until now we have not done too badly.''

Wenger told L'Equipe he does not know how much money he will have in the summer.

"I do not think that the team need major investments,'' Wenger said in the French newspaper.

Wenger's project and the way he has nurtured talent gives the club something to be proud of, according to forward Van Persie.

The Dutchman said: "If you look at our squad and different teams, for example Chelsea, Manchester United or Liverpool, what they cost and what we have cost, that has something to do with it. We can be proud of ourselves.''

Former Arsenal midfielder Petit, however, believes Wenger should break with tradition and spend what he can.

"Arsenal have not won anything in four years,'' Petit said. "Everything was done to bring together a young team and make it progress step by step, after [Thierry] Henry's departure.

"But, at the end of the day, the transition did not work out.

"Arsene Wenger was always protected by David Dein, but today the shareholders, the fans and the press are doing soul-searching.

"Arsene is extremely intelligent, he is a visionary. I am not saying that he should change his ways, but if he made slight changes and managed to find a compromise between youth and experience, like Manchester and every dominant team in Europe do, he would find the right mix.

"But it means spending more money.''

Zenit St Petersburg striker Pavel Pogrebnyak is a player who would be willing to move to Arsenal.

Pogrebnyak told Sport Express: "I think for any player to have the opportunity to work with Arsene Wenger would be a big step forward.''

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