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09 December 2023

Arsenal's Van Persie a Go(o)ner? Not to Barca...

Arsenal's Robin van Persie scores the first goal during the Barclays Premier League match against Blackburn Rovers at Emirates Stadium on Saturday in London, England. (GETTY)

By Staff

Barcelona have dismissed reports linking the Spanish champions with summer moves for Arsenal captain Robin van Persie and Tottenham Hotspur winger Gareth Bale.

It had been rumoured that Nou Camp officials were in contact with the Gunners over a possible deal for the Dutch striker, who has scored a staggering 28 goals in all competitions this season.

The Dutch international's Gunners contract expires in 2013, leading to intense speculation over his long-term future at Emirates Stadium.

But Barcelona vice-president Josep Maria Bartomeu has denied any approach for the 28-year-old striker, who scored a hat-trick during the 7-1 demolition Blackburn Rovers on Saturday to take his Premier League tally to 22.

“Nothing exists with Robin van Persie,” said Bartomeu after Saturday’s 2-1 win over Real Sociedad. “They are rumours that appear in the newspapers. We have not contacted Arsenal, nor his agent.

“Our focus is now on the Liga and Copa del Rey. It’s necessary to be focused on the task at hand and not be distracted by the transfer market.

Van Persie also knocked out compatriot Dennis Bergkamp from the top 10 of all-time Gunners scorers by taking his tally to 123 goals in 264 games. Bergkamp's record was 121 in 424.

His performance came in for special praise from Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger: "Robin is an exceptional football player and his movement in the box should be shown at any football school.

"He takes advantage when you feed him in the box. He is deadly."

Other reports had suggested that the Champions League holders are considering a £40 million summer swoop for Bale, with Barcelona sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta said to have travelled to London to watch the Tottenham star in action.

But Zubizarreta insists there is no truth behind the rumours and declared that Barcelona’s main aim is to give their youth team players a chance to compete for a place in Pep Guardiola’s starting line-up.

“It’s not true that I have been in London negotiating with anyone and I have already said a thousand times that 90 per cent of our ‘signable’ players are at Barca or in the youth team,” he told El Mundo Deportivo.