WIGAN, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 03: Robin Van Persie of Arsenal attacks Wigan Athletic during the Barclays Premier League match between Wigan Athletic and Arsenal at the DW Stadium on December 3, 2011 in Wigan, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
In a bit of news that really actually should not surprise too many people, Simon Mullock of the Daily Mirror is reporting that Robin van Persie actually wanted to go with Arsenal on the club's tour of Asia, and his teammates wanted him along as well, but Arsene Wenger asked him to stay behind after a meeting this week:
The Dutch striker wanted to go on the trip to China and south-east Asia and told his Arsenal team-mates he was keen to be part of the preparations for the new season.
But in their meeting, boss Wenger told Van Persie he felt it was best for the striker to remain in England...
...Even with the transfer wrangle hotting up van Persie returned to training last week and was told by team-mates that they hoped he would be around for the coming season.
They also wanted him to go on tour to Asia.
Although this seems like a big deal on its surface, this bit of news reinforces what most already suspected: Robin van Persie is almost assuredly on his way out of the club, with bids from Manchester United, Manchester City, and Juventus on the table, all three of which fall well short of the asking price.
It looks more and more like Robin van Persie may have indeed kicked his last ball in anger for Arsenal in the match against West Brom to close out the 2011-12 Premier League season. However, nothing is yet set in stone, and should Arsenal receive no satisfactory offers for the striker, it isn't beyond reason that he may finish out his last contract year at the Emirates. However, this is most likely a sign that Wenger is looking to keep him fresh and injury-free for any suitors on the market, or perhaps van Persie really is that short of match fitness (likelihood of the previous clause: 2% or so).
In his absence, vice-captain Thomas Vermaelen has been asked to lead the team in Asia, and has reportedly already began making preparations for life after van Persie by stashing certain vital supplies and parts in hidden caches and safehouses in major European cities, including, but not limited to, fission batteries, titanium plating, carbon fiber components, and various semiconductors and replacement computer chips.