Wenger bets choccy bar that Van Persie will stay at Arsenal

Robin van Persie and Arsene Wenger

Gunners boss confident RVP will stay, but Barcelona may move for Vermaelen

BY Bill Mann LAST UPDATED AT 07:37 ON Wed 20 Jun 2012

IF ARSENAL striker Robin Van Persie leaves Arsenal for Juventus this summer Arsene Wenger will not only lose his captain he will also find himself out of pocket to the tune of around £1 after betting an Italian journalist a chocolate bar that the Dutch striker would stay in north London.

In an interview with Italian rag La Reppublica the ever-shrewd Wenger, who does not throw his money away lightly, insisted that Van Persie would stick with Arsenal and also took a sly dig at Serie A.

"There is no reason why a top player, a big champion would want a move to Serie A in terms of the prestige of the League, the level of play or financial considerations. If he moves there I will buy you a Caramello," he said, according to The Mirror.  According to Cadbury a Caramello is a blend of milk chocolate and creamy caramel.

Arsenal vice-captain and best friend of Robin van Persie, Thomas Vermaelen, is Barcelona's plan B in this summer's transfer market, according to the Daily Mirror. Apparently, the Catalan club's new boss Tito Vilanova has earmarked Athletic Bilbao defender Javi Martinez as his number one target but should he fail to pull off Plan A, he'll fall back on B, a big money offer for Vermaelen. Martinez has been priced out of Barcelona's reaches, claims the Mirror, hence their interest in the 26-year-old Vermaelen.

Meanwhile the Mirror also reports that another Arsenal player, Mexican striker Carlos Vela, is "desperate" to join Real Sociedad on a full-time contract. The 23-year-old was loaned out to the Spanish club last season and after a good spell in La Liga, Vela wants to stay there. But as yet the two clubs can't agree a fee, prompting Vela's agent, Eduardo Hernandez, to moan: "He is very happy at Sociedad, he wants to stay there, but Arsenal are a complicated club to deal with."

In other news Manchester City midfielder Nigel de Jong has said he hopes to be at the Etihad next season despite the ongoing discussions over a contract extension. The deflated Dutchman, still trying to come to terms with Holland's disastrous Euro 2012 display, has 12 months remaining on his existing deal with the Sky Blues and discussed his future in an interview with Dutch magazine NUsport. "My contract runs for another year, so I'm in a pretty good position," explained De Jong, adding: "I want to stay [at City]. I've been at the club for three years and I'm feeling really well."

Elsewhere Talksport claims that Chelsea cast-off Jose Bosingwa "has offered his services to Barcelona" in the hope of securing employment ahead of the new season. The right-back helped the Blues win the Champions League in May only to find himself out in the cold come the end of the season.

With Chelsea not offering the 29-year-old a new contract, offers soon arrived from Juventus and Torino but Talksport says the Portuguese reject is biding his time in making a decision in the hope Barcelona sign him as a replacement for Dani Alves who, a bit like a John Terry goalline clearance, is said to be way past it.

Still with Chelsea, and Porto striker Hulk has openly declared his love for the Blues. The 25-year-old Brazilian has been linked with a move to the Bridge for months but until now has always avoided the question directly. But in an interview with Portuguese rag O Jogo, Hulk (all 5ft 11in of him) cooed: "Chelsea are the current European champions and would please any player and I'm no exception. I'd be happy if the transfer happened."

Chelsea are believed to be keen on signing the frontman but the fee remains a stumbling block. According to Hulk he will "leave everything in the hands of Porto" in the expectation they'll do what's best for him and his bank balance.

ESPN reports that Lille head coach Rudi Garcia has revealed the club have knocked back a £4m bid from Newcastle for full-back Mathieu Debuchy. The 26-year-old has impressed for France in the European Championships - at least he had before France's 2-0 defeat to Sweden - although it's believed Newcastle boss Alan Pardew has long had his eye on Debuchy. But ESPN report that Garcia wasn't impressed by the Magpies' initial bid, joking with French website 20 Minutes that "I do believe that Newcastle have faxed an offer of £4m - but they must have the wrong player". Someone should tell Garcia sarcasm is the lowest form of wit.

Despite Garcia's narky comments it's believed Newcastle haven't given up the ghost on Debuchy. Instead they're considering whether to match Lille's £6m valuation of the player. And Garcia hinted that a deal could still be possible if Newcastle up their bid, saying: "If he does go and it is a sporting progression, then we will be happy to see him evolve - but we have not planned to replace him."

Finally, Didier Drogba has officially signed for Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua on a two-and-a-half-year deal after leaving Chelsea last month having scored the winning penalty in the Champions League final. · 

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