BENAYOUN: VAN PERSIE WILL STAY
Yossi Benayoun expects Robin van Persie to stay at Arsenal "for a long time".
The Dutch striker's 35 goals this season are sure to make him one of the most coveted players in this summer's transfer window, and he has already been linked with the likes of Manchester City, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus.
Van Persie only has a year left on his contract with the Gunners and has delayed talks over a new deal until the end of the campaign.
Having endured protracted speculation over the futures of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri over the last couple of years, and then seen them leave the club, Arsenal will be determined to avoid the same scenario with Van Persie.
Midfielder Benayoun said: "I think everyone knows it's important (that he stays).
"Each club wants to keep their best player and of course Robin is our best player and he's proved it this season.
"I'm sure he will stay for a long time."
Benayoun joined Liverpool at the same time as Fernando Torres in the summer of 2007, and he believes the two strikers have a lot in common.
"I've been lucky to play with some of the biggest strikers and Robin at the moment is one of the best in the world," said Benayoun.
"When Fernando was on fire at Liverpool and scoring a lot of goals, for me they are on the same level.
"With Fernando you knew every game for Liverpool he could score, especially with a player like Steven (Gerrard) behind him.
"With Robin we know we must give him the right balls and he will score, and that's what he's done all season."
Van Persie made it 35 goals for the season with the equaliser in Arsenal's 1-1 draw at Stoke, which came in the same week he was named the PFA and Football Writers' Association Player of the Year.
Benayoun added: "I think he was above any other player in the Premier League. He's scored lots of goals, created a lot of goals, he has been the main man this season."
Benayoun was back in the side after missing the goalless draw with his parent club Chelsea last weekend under the terms of his loan agreement.
The 31-year-old has only two games left of his season-long deal, and he insisted he does not yet know where his future lies.
"I have two more games to give 100% for Arsenal and we'll see what will happen," said the Israeli.
"When I had the chance to come to Arsenal, one of the main things was the football, moving the ball quickly, and that's what I enjoy most."
Benayoun has been in and out of the team this season, scoring four goals in 26 appearances, but he looked a threat down the left and it was his good work that created the opening for Arsenal's goal.
The point, coupled with Newcastle's thrashing at Wigan, gave the Gunners a bit of breathing space in third place in the Barclays Premier League table, keeping them on track for a Champions League spot.
Benayoun said: "I think it's not a bad result because we know how difficult it can be to play against Stoke.
"Of course we wanted to win but the point is a good point, especially after Newcastle lost. Now if we win the last two games we will be in third place, so it's important."
However, Benayoun felt Arsenal should have been given the chance to win the game from the spot after he went down in the second half under pressure from Glenn Whelan.
"It was 100% a penalty," said the midfielder. "I don't need to see a replay. I was pushed in the back.
"But the referee said he didn't see it so you can't do anything."
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