By Gabriel Tan in Kuala Lumpur
The Gunners arrived in Malaysia on Sunday afternoon for the first leg of their pre-season tour of Asia, but Van Persie was not part of the travelling squad after it was revealed at the weekend the club had received bids from Manchester City, Manchester United and Juventus for the want-away striker.
And despite the disappointment of having his skipper hand in a transfer request for the second season running, after Cesc Fabregas asked to move to Barcelona last summer, Wenger insists his opinion and admiration of Van Persie has not changed.
“Robin van Persie is a world-class striker,” Wenger told ESPNSTAR at the launch of their pre-season tour in Kuala Lumpur.
“I’m a big supporter of him and I’ve supported him his whole career, since he came over from Feyenoord.”
While the Frenchman insists the North London outfit retain hope of persuading the Netherlands international to stay at the Emirates Stadium, he hinted that selling the talismanic striker before the transfer window closes could be an option if it is what’s best for the club.
“He has one year left on his contract and is in demand,” he added. “Our desire is to keep Robin van Persie.
“But at the end of the day, we will do what is best for the club. The official deadline for the decision is August 31 [when the window closes].”
Nonetheless, Wenger suggested the reason why Van Persie had not travelled with the squad was not because of the three bids received, rumoured to be in the region of £15million, but due to fact he had only just started pre-season after his participation at Euro 2012.
“For the players who have come on this pre-season trip, some of them have had two weeks of hard work,” the former Nagoya Grampus boss explained.
“However, some of the players are a little behind in fitness, like [Laurent] Koscielny, Van Persie and [Olivier] Giroud, which is why they were left out.”
Van Persie enjoyed a memorable campaign last season as he won both the PFA Player of the Year and FWA Footballer of the Year awards after scoring 37 goals in 48 appearances for the Gunners in all competition.