x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

Van Persie says he told Arsenal to sign Van der Vaart

The Dutch playmaker joined the Gunners' north London rivals Tottenham from Real Madrid instead.

Arsenal striker Robin van Persie claims he urged Arsene Wenger to sign Rafael van der Vaart.

Van der Vaart joined the Gunners' north London rivals Tottenham from Real Madrid instead and has made an impressive start to life in England with seven goals in 12 games in all competitions.

The two teams clash on Saturday and Van Persie is disappointed his fellow Dutchman will be lining up for the opposition.

He told NUsport: "He (Van der Vaart) is a great footballer, I know the quality he has.

"I would rather have him at Arsenal. I indicated a couple of times that Rafael would be useful for Arsenal but that advice was not followed.

"I regret the fact he was not signed, but it is the right of the club, this is just my opinion.

"Now you can see the result. Spurs were a good team but now they are a top team."

Meanwhile, the Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard could be out of action for as long as four weeks after injuring his hamstring playing for England.

"He's just been in for an early assessment here and it certainly looks like a significant hamstring injury," Peter Brukner, the Liverpool doctor, said. "He's going to be out for a little while, I'm afraid.

"I'd imagine it could be three to four weeks."

Liverpool was angered that Gerrard played almost all of Wednesday's 2-1 friendly loss to France despite the national team apparently agreeing to substitute him after an hour because of an existing problem.

The 30-year-old Gerrard stayed on the field after midfield colleague Gareth Barry was forced off injured, but the Liverpool player limped off himself in the 85th minute and could now miss as many as five Premier League matches.

"If you put your hand up to play for your country, you've got to accept how long they want you to play for," Brukner said. "There were obviously circumstances last night which came together to result in Steven playing for a bit longer than we'd hoped, which is disappointing, but there's nothing we can do about that now."

Gerrard has scored three of Liverpool's 13 Premier League goals and created several more.

The club is 11th in the Premier League, just three points above the relegation zone.