The excitement surrounding the 2012 European Championships notwithstanding, the focus on preparing club teams across the continent for the 2012/13 league and European campaigns continues, with teams announcing pre-season tours, friendlies and non-competitive tournaments, to assess squad strengths and weaknesses.
Chelsea recently announced they would return to the US for a pre-season tour that will see them play both MLS sides and European elite, while the latest news surrounding Arsenal's tour is that want-away striker Robin van Persie will, in fact, accompany the Gunners on their Asian tour.
The Independent, earlier in the year, announced that Arsene Wenger's side had confirmed friendlies in Malaysia, China and Hong Kong. The report said the scheduled tour would start on 24 July with a game at the Bukit Jalal Stadium, against a Malaysia XI. That would be followed by a game in Beijing, China, on 27 July, against English champions Manchester City and conclude with a game in Hong Kong, against Kitchee FC, on 29 July.
The transfer saga surrounding Dutch striker van Persie's possible move away from the Emirates will not, a Daily Mail report states, keep Wenger from excluding the player in his pre-season build-up. The Gunners' captain is in the penultimate year of his contract with the club and is being courted by a number of high-profile clubs and is presently refusing to sign a new deal with Arsenal.
It is understood that those of the club's players still with their national teams and playing at the Euros will be given an extended break but those not playing - like van Persie - will have to report for pre-season training on 24 July. This gives the Dutchman about three week's time to spend with his family and make his decision. Meanwhile, Arsenal will also play a one-off friendly in Abuja (the first ever in Nigeria) on 5 August, against an as yet unknown opposition.
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Meanwhile, Wenger has described former Arsenal striker and Nigerian international Nwankwo Kanu as a "great representative of Nigeria". Speaking at a press conference held to announce Arsenal's tour to Nigeria, Wenger admitted to being full of respect for the 35 year old.
"I like Kanu because he was not only a great player, but also very brave. He never complained, you could kick him everywhere and he never said a word. He was very brave and I have a big respect for him. Then he created his heart foundation, and that was great as well - he does a good job with that. He loves football because when you have his knees and you still play today, you must be brave, believe me!" the Frenchman explained.