ARSENAL manager Arsene Wenger has reiterated his desire to keep Robin van Persie, but wants the captain's future sorted one way or the other by the start of the new Premier League season.
The 28-year-old Holland striker announced after the European Championship that he would not be renewing his current deal at the Emirates Stadium, which expires at the end of next term, and questioned the club's ambitions.
Speaking in Malaysia at the start of the Gunners' pre-season tour, Wenger said: "We are very, very ambitious. You know that. Not only very ambitious, but also very proud of the way we run our club.
"Van Persie is a world-class striker and I am a big supporter of him. I have supported him through his whole career. He has one year left and is in demand but our desire is to keep him.
"However, we will do what is in the best interest of the club. If you have a decoder in your head you can decode that."
Wenger will no doubt be keen to avoid a repeat of last year, when both Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas were sold towards the end of the summer transfer window.
"The official transfer deadline is August 31 but then we can create an internal deadline," the Frenchman said.
Asked if that was before the new campaign kicks off, he replied: "Of course. I believe the transfer market should stop before the season starts anyway."
Arsenal have rejected three offers for the Dutch international -- from Manchester City, Juventus and Manchester United.
United manager, Alex Ferguson, made a point of admitting the club had tabled a bid.
And although the offer is said to have fallen well short of Wenger's valuation of around £30million, the fact United revealed their interest could further unsettle Van Persie, who has stated that he will not sign a new contract at Arsenal ahead of his existing deal's expiry next summer.
Manchester United and Arsenal must bridge a £10m gap in their respective valuations of Robin van Persie if the Dutch forward is to complete a move to Old Trafford.
United believe they are in pole position to beat Manchester City to the 28 year-old's signature after being encouraged that Van Persie prefers a transfer to the red half of Manchester over a move to the Premier League champions.
But Ferguson is understood to have made £15m his top valuation of the striker -- well below the Arsenal board's asking price.
After United, City and Italian champions Juventus all lodged bids with Arsenal for Van Persie, a three-way chase is now on for his signature.
Van Persie was left behind in London on Saturday as Arsène Wenger's squad flew to the Far East to embark on their pre-season tour, which includes a friendly against City in Beijing on Friday.
But despite City's interest in the Arsenal captain, and the superior spending power of the Abu Dhabi-owned champions, United are confident that Van Persie prefers a move to Old Trafford.
Arsenal manager Wenger is understood to have urged the club's board not to sell Van Persie for less than £30m.
However, with only a year to run on the forward's contract, the Emirates hierarchy are believed to hold a more pragmatic view that would see them sell in the region of £25m.
A refusal to drop that valuation, however, will see United turn their attentions elsewhere.