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Van Persie will stay - Benayoun

YOSSI BENAYOUN expects Robin van Persie to stay at Arsenal "for a long time".

The Dutch striker's 35 goals this season are sure to make him one of the most coveted players in this summer's transfer window, and he has already been linked with the likes of Manchester City, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus.

Van Persie only has a year left on his contract with the Gunners and has delayed talks over a new deal until the end of the campaign.

Having endured protracted speculation over the futures of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri over the last couple of years, and then seen them leave the club, Arsenal will be determined to avoid the same scenario again.

Midfielder Benayoun said: "I think everyone knows it's important (that he stays). Each club wants to keep their best player and of course Robin is our best player and he's proved it this season.

"I'm sure he will stay for a long time. I've been lucky to play with some of the biggest strikers and Robin at the moment is one of the best in the world."

Benayoun was back in the side yesterday after missing the goalless draw with his parent club Chelsea last weekend under the terms of his loan agreement.

"With Robin we know we must give him the right balls and he will score, and that's what he's done all season."

Van Persie made it 35 goals for the season yesterday with the equaliser in Arsenal's 1-1 draw at Stoke, which came in the same week he was named the PFA and Football Writers' Association Player of the Year.

Benayoun added: "I think he was above any other player in the Premier League.

"He's scored lots of goals, created a lot of goals, he has been the main man this season."