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Podolski a 'bargaining tool'

Arsene Wenger hopes that by signing Lukas Podolski he can convince Robin van Persie to commit himself to the club by agreeing a new deal this summer.

The 28-year-old's present deal expires at the end of next season and talks are planned later this month amid interest from a number of top clubs, including Barcelona and Manchester City.

Podolski's £10.9m capture from Cologne was confirmed earlier this week and Wenger believes the arrival of such a high-profile figure -- he has played 95 times for Germany, scoring 43 goals -- could be an important bargaining tool in convincing Van Persie to stay.

"Great players like to be with great players, so it helps always to get them in," the Arsenal manager said.

"First, we want Robin to stay because he is convinced that we can play for the championship. We have bought Podolski; our next step is to bring (Jack) Wilshere back, (Abou) Diaby back, then if you look at our squad I don't feel we are behind anybody else."

Wenger claims that, regardless of whether Van Persie signs a new deal this summer, the Dutchman will not leave the club.

Arsenal sold Samir Nasri to Manchester City for £24m after deciding to cash in on a player in the final year of his deal and refusing to sign an extension, but Wenger said: "The situations are not comparable. I cannot guarantee that it will go well but I am quite confident. I believe he is committed to the club; the club has shown great commitment to him and put great faith in him."

Wenger reaches a milestone with today's visit of Norwich City as it will be his 900th match in charge of Arsenal.

The Gunners also confirmed they will travel to Nigeria to play a pre-season match on August 5.

Irish Independent