Arsenal legend Patrick Vieira said the club will be unable to hold onto prize asset Robin van Persie this off-season.
The former Arsenal midfielder – currently employed by Manchester City in an executive football development role – earned cult status with the North London fans during his nine-year spell at Highbury.
However, he has risked upsetting those fans and manager Arsene Wenger by suggesting that van Persie will go the same way as some of his now former team-mates.
Vieira told the Daily Mirror: “It will be as difficult (for Arsenal) as when they lost Cesc Fabregas or Samir Nasri last summer. And if they lose Robin now, who is left behind?
“Of course, it is going to be difficult to keep him or convince him to stay, but I don’t know what is the plan for them.
“I don’t think you have many talents like Robin who have just one year left on their contracts – I think there will be a lot of teams who want a signing like him.”
Van Persie has been in scintillating form this season, scoring 37 goals in just 48 appearances, making him one of the most sought-after players in the world.
And the Frenchman is surprised that Arsenal have allowed their talisman’s contract to run down, arguing that such policy will make it increasingly difficult to keep their stars.
“When Samir and Cesc left, you could say, ‘OK, but we still have Van Persie and Jack Wilshere at the club’,” he added.
“But if Robin leaves, that means next year it may be Theo Walcott, next year it’s Wilshere, and it’s going to be difficult for Arsenal to keep their top players.
“Robin wants to win trophies – and Arsenal have to prove he can do it with them.”