Meeting told Van Persie it was time to go

ARSENAL captain Robin van Persie has blamed a “disagreement” over the direction in which the North London club is heading for his refusal to sign a new contract.

Van Persie yesterday revealed he would not be extending his stay at the club, making his exit inevitable, and though it remains unclear if he will be sold this summer or leave for free upon the expiration of his contract in 12 months time, his departure would represent a significant setback for Arsenal’s hopes of once more challenging for serious honours.

“As announced earlier this year I had a meeting with the boss [Arsene Wenger] and [Ivan] Gazidis after the season,” said the Dutch striker. “This was a meeting about the club’s future strategy and their policy. Financial terms or a contract have not been discussed, since that is not my priority at all.

“My goal has been to win trophies with the team and to bring the club back to its glory days. Out of my huge respect for Mr Wenger, the players and the fans I don’t want to go into any details, but unfortunately in this meeting it has again become clear to me that we in many aspects disagree on the way Arsenal should move forward.

“As soon as Mr Gazidis is back from his two-week holiday further meetings will follow and I will update you if and when there are more developments.”

Van Persie’s future has been the subject of intense speculation since last year but only on Tuesday had manager Arsene Wenger reiterated his desire to see the double player of the year remain.

“We want to keep Robin van Persie at all costs, because we depend on him offensively,” said Wenger, who has already strengthened his squad with the signings of Germany forward Lukas Podolski and France striker Olivier Giroud. “I have always supported him, and I hope he will end his career at Arsenal.”

A statement on Arsenal’s official website, meanwhile, read: “We have to respect Robin’s decision not to renew his contract. We are confident he will fulfil his commitments to the club. We are planning with ambition and confidence for next season with Arsenal’s best interests in mind.”