Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Reformed Van Persie Is Ready to Sign a New Deal; Arsenal Star Says His Bad-Boy Days Are over and That He'll Stay at Arsenal If the Club's Ambitions Match His. by James Olley

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Reformed Van Persie Is Ready to Sign a New Deal; Arsenal Star Says His Bad-Boy Days Are over and That He'll Stay at Arsenal If the Club's Ambitions Match His. by James Olley

Article excerpt

Byline: James Olley

ROBIN VAN PERSIE claims his bad-boy days are behind him and will commit his future to Arsenal if they match his ambition to end the club's trophy drought.

The Dutchman has been sent off three times and developed a controversial reputation since moving to England from Feyenoord in 2004.

But after William Gallas was stripped of the captaincy in November and his replacement, Cesc Fabregas, suffered a serious knee injury, the Gunners needed a spearhead to rally the troops. The 25-year-old became that figure and his displays have helped propel Arsenal above Aston Villa in the race to a top-four Premier League finish, the FA Cup semi-finals and the Champions League quarter-finals.

In an interview with this month's Champions magazine, he said: "I believe the wild days are behind you when you reach 25. From this age on, you should be reaping the rewards of what you've learned. After seven years in professional football I now have what I need to go further.

"I've heard and seen enough -- it's as if I've crossed a barrier. I see players between 25 and 30 having their best years. In a certain sense, it feels like a voyage of discovery and I feel I'm where I want to be as a footballer. This also applies to physical development. Now, I can play out matches a lot easier." Van Persie has reportedly stalled over a new three-year, [pounds sterling]80,000-a-week deal as Arsenal's Champions League future hangs in the balance.

Barcelona are among a host of clubs thought to have expressed an interest but he hinted Arsenal need only to splash out in the transfer market to convince him his future lies in North London.

"In Spanish papers there are so many names mentioned and I haven't heard anything concrete from Barcelona," said Van Persie, who has less than 18 months left on his present deal.

"I can't do anything about those rumours.

I'm still in negotiations with Arsenal and it's going well, in a very positive atmosphere.

There are further meetings planned.

"Financially Arsenal's last offer is fine but that isn't everything for me. …

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