Van Persie proud to surpass Spurs

Jim van Wijk

ROBIN van Persie has underlined the importance of Arsenal securing Champions League football again and also to finish above north London rivals Tottenham.

Arsenal beat West Brom 3-2 at the Hawthorns to end the Premier League campaign one point ahead of Spurs, who recorded what was in the end a hollow victory over Fulham at White Hart Lane, although fourth place could yet be good enough for a place in next season's Champions League qualifiers.

It completed a remarkable turnaround for the Gunners, who slumped to 17th after losing four of their opening seven league games and at one time trailed Spurs by 10 points.

Van Persie said: "It was double important to finish third and also above Spurs. We knew what was at stake.

"It is just a fantastic feeling again to be ahead of Spurs. We heard that they won, but it doesn't really matter because we won our game.

"We are definitely in the Champions League again, and that was the main target from the match. We just had to qualify and everyone is very pleased, everyone is enjoying this moment."

Van Persie praised the battling efforts of Arsene Wenger's squad during what has been a testing season.

"It is incredible. We had to dig deep and come back on a couple of occasions where we were having a hard time," the Dutchman said. "At the start of the season, we had a very difficult period, but we bounced back very well from that."

Van Persie netted 30 Premier League goals to help fire the Gunners back into the top four.

The Holland forward spent plenty of time applauding travelling supporters after the final whistle at The Hawthorns, and is set for talks with Arsenal over his future this week.

Wenger will focus on his on-field vision for Arsenal and a belief that the club will challenge for next season's Premier League title when he sits down with Van Persie.

Arsenal believe that sporting factors will shape Van Persie's decision as much as their financial package, although they are also ready to offer a huge signing-on fee of around £5million as well as wages of £130,000-a-week.

That would make Van Persie the highest paid player in the club's history, but it remains well short of the riches that could be on offer at Manchester City or Chelsea. Fernando Torres, who has scored 30 fewer goals this season, is on double Van Persie's weekly wage of £90,000-a-week.

Wenger has said that he hopes to resolve the issue before Euro 2012 but it could rumble on all summer if Van Persie decides to wait to see what options emerge.

Arsenal regard their Plan B as keeping Van Persie to his contract for another season, even if that would then risk losing him for nothing next year.

Their hope is that Van Persie will react positively to Wenger's vision.