By Richard Clarke

Arsène Wenger has given Robin van Persie perhaps the highest praise a striker can ever receive – by making comparisons to Marco van Basten.

The latter was perhaps the greatest all-round forward the modern game has seen. The Dutchman led his country to success in Euro 88 and AC Milan to a clutch of honours two decades ago.

Van Persie is hardly a carbon copy but, Wenger argues, the 26-year-old has strong technical similarities.

“I think he’s a Van Basten type,” he said. “By which I mean he’s a technical centre forward. He has that classy first touch, sharp movement and a short back-lift.

“I always thought he was more a first striker than second striker and I must say I love him there because he has a brain. He can play others in and he can score. His movement is intelligent around the box and if we score a lot of goals a big part is down to him.

“Look at the one he scored [against Birmingham on Saturday]. You can say it was a bit lucky but you need a specialist soft touch to control the ball in that situation. With a normal player, the ball goes five yards away but with his second touch he puts it straight back on his left leg and scores.”

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20 Oct 2009