Martin Keown is currently travelling around the Far East with the Arsenal marketing and communications team as the club finalise details for their summer tour.
Having already played an active part at a press conference in Hong Kong announcing the friendly with Kitchee FC, the legendary centre-back, appearing very comfortable talking to the media as an ambassador for the club, has also spoken on television in Beijing.
Answering questions from Chinese Arsenal fans, the ex-England defender gave his view on the Robin van Persie contract situation making clear that the Dutchman was an integral part of Arsene Wenger’s set-up and not a player the club could afford to lose.
“We have to keep him. We’ve lost of course Fabregas and Nasri last summer. The team has done very well to adjust.
“It’s interesting to see how he has developed. I was at the club when he came as a young man and I think the captaincy has given him something extra.
“He’s a real figurehead for the team and we can rely on him to score. He’s our Messi.
“He scores the goals, which are really important for the team. It would be a backwards step to lose him.
“I can’t imagine he’d get the same adulation if he went anywhere else – the Arsenal fans love him and they recognise now that we need to get this [contract talks] sorted out.
“Maybe it’s linked to how successful the team is going to be, but he certainly looks happy at the moment. He’s in great form.”
It’s great to see Keown sporting the club blazer and speaking with such passion about The Arsenal. That a popular figurehead of such importance to the club’s recent history has been drafted in by the Gunners hierarchy is not only a great marketing coup as the Arsenal brand expands in the Far East, but also a vital step in ensuring that traditions are passed down from generation to generation at the Emirates.
As for his views on Van Persie – it’s clear to see the man thinks not just as an analyst of the game, but also a fan. Let’s hope the captain heeds his call.
Thanks again to @SiuFay for the video link.