at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
London – Arsenal chairman Peter Hill-Wood admits his club will struggle to keep Robin van Persie if the Gunners captain is offered a mega-money deal elsewhere.
Van Persie's current contract expires at the end of next season and Arsenal are keen to tie the Dutch forward to a new deal on improved terms.
Some reports claim Arsenal are willing to offer van Persie wages of around £130,000-a-week to stay at the Emirates Stadium.
But big-spending Manchester City and Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid are all thought to be considering the kind of huge salary offer that would blow Arsenal out of the water.
Hill-Wood concedes that if money is van Persie's primary motivation then the striker, who scored 37 goals for Arsenal last season, will most likely leave.
“He is vital to us and has been an extremely good captain,” Hill-Wood told the Sunday Mirror.
“But if somebody comes along and offers Robin £250,000 a week then I am afraid we cannot compete with that.
“With players, you never know what they are going to do. Some players say they want silverware but when they have the chance to earn extraordinary money that has been pumped into the game, then you just have to hope they will stay because they are happy and loyal where they are.
“There are players like Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes at Manchester United who have been loyal to one club but players like that are few and far between.
“Hopefully we can reach agreement with Robin and ideally he will extend his contract.”
However, Hill-Wood is hopeful that Arsenal's determination to improve their squad with a host of quality signings – the Gunners have already lined up a deal for Germany striker Lukas Podolski – will persuade van Persie that the club is heading in the right direction after seven years without a trophy.
“We have already brought in one new player in Lukas Podolski and I believe we will bring in more. I am confident we will, in fact,” Hill-Wood added.
“I just hope that Robin will be with us next season because I genuinely feel we can make a real challenge for the Premier League title.
“We had an atrocious start to last season but we recovered to finish third which was a marvellous achievement when you look at the problems that we had with injuries.” – Sapa-AFP