Another Summer Of Suffering Awaits
Unfortunately, this summer seems to be heading the way of the last. The club’s failure to reach an agreement with Robin van Persie over his contract extension is once again causing the media, pundits, ex-players and fans to enunciate on Arsenal’s ability to attract and retain top talent.
Firstly, fans need to realise that reaching an agreement before the Euros was never going to happen. In early April, Arsene may have been hopeful of securing that Champions League spot sooner which would have given the club more time to work something out with RvP and his people. As it turned out, we left it till the last day of the season so reaching a conclusion on talks in a couple of days was always going to be difficult.
Secondly, the lack of an announcement at this stage does not indicate one thing or another. What we have to watch out for is how long it takes after the Euros – the longer it drags, the less belief I’ll have that Robin intends to stay at the Emirates next season.
There are two ways to look at this situation – the sentimental way and the objective way.
Emotionally speaking, one could argue that RvP has been a major factor in our finishing third this season and the club should do everything possible to ensure he retires a Gunner. On the other hand, the player should also bear in mind that Arsenal have stuck by him during difficult injury spells when his form was patchy.
Objectively, we have to realise that it will be impossible to match City’s offer. The £250k-a-week that the nouveau riche could offer him would destroy Arsenal’s entire wage structure. Those who clamour for such deals to be offered to our players only need to look at City loanees like Adebayor, Santa Cruz and Bridge to realise that it can quickly become a noose around your neck.
I would understand if Robin decided to move for financial reasons. Unlike Nasri who had one good season and was at a different stage in his career, this is likely to be the Dutchman’s last contract and I would not begrudge him a better deal if he chose to take it. If it comes down to money, we have to accept that we don’t have much chance of retaining his services.
While everyone is entitled to their opinion, Patrick Vieira’s ‘alleged’ comments in The Sun are most unwelcome.
It is one of the things they should have closed a long time ago. It is difficult to understand. It’s really difficult to find players of the quality of Van Persie with one year left all around the world.
If they lose Van Persie, it will be a drama.
Well Patrick, the drama here is being created by you. I am convinced Arsenal would have happily extended Robin’s deal last summer. It is Van Persie who has consistently stated his desire to start talks only in the summer – how is the club supposed to force a player into signing a new contract unless he wants to sit down and talk?
The ex-Gunner goes on to say:
The best way for them to get him to sign a contract is to bring players to the club who can show him the club are in the same line as him.
Yes, there are areas of the pitch where we need better quality than we currently have. Yes, our bench strength is certainly not comparable to City’s. Yes, in an ideal world where everyone owns oil wells we would like to have a squad full of world-class players who are totally classless, some of whom prefer playing golf in South America than travel to Stoke-on-Trent on a cold night in January.
Robin van Persie’s ‘level’ that Vieira is alluding to would not have been reached if we’d applied the Frenchman’s wisdom three years ago. Van Persie is where he is now not only because of his undoubted talent, but also because of Arsene Wenger’s faith in the striker’s ability to develop into a lone striker role, a belief that even Robin did not possess. If Vieira’s words had been acted upon when Adebayor left the club, Arsenal would have bought Didier Drogba and allowed Van Persie to develop his ‘level’ on the bench.
The same can be said for the players Van Persie seems to enjoy playing with nowadays – Theo Walcott, Alex Song and Tomas Rosicky have over the years been branded as wastes-of-time, yet Arsene has retained faith in them and all have proved their worth this season.
As supporters, we have to realise that Arsenal develop world-class players, we don’t parachute them in. It’s hypocritical to be proud of a Van Persie or Koscielny when they start producing while at the same time calling for the heads of those who are still working towards reaching that level. While some fans would have Arsenal pay money to get rid of Abou Diaby right now, the Frenchman’s talent is undoubted as well. Imagine the scenario in three years time if Diaby has a couple of injury-free seasons? Without doubt, we’ll take to internet forums then and want more players of Diaby’s ‘level’ to be brought into the squad.
As far as Patrick Vieira goes, Arsenal legend or not, he’s currently in the employ of Manchester City. For me, statements like the ones he’s made above (if he’s made them, mind) don’t show a genuine concern for the Gunners. Instead, they seem like attempts to disrupt a player by questioning the club’s policy and ambition. Remember, Vieira was involved in Nasri’s move to City last summer as well.
I don’t believe reports that Van Persie is demanding to know the full extent of our summer transfer plans. I hope I’m right because it would be a dangerous precedent to allow a player to dictate transfer policies – we certainly don’t want to create a John Terry at Arsenal.
The onus though is on the player. If he’s decided to leave, Van Persie needs to make it clear immediately after the Euros. This will allow Arsenal time to identify and secure deals for a replacement striker. If he’s leaning towards staying and the terms have to be worked out, a reasonable deadline should be set to thrash out the details.
Robin van Persie has brought a lot of joy to Gunners over the years. At the same time, Arsenal have given him a lot of love in return and the manager and coaching staff have been instrumental in the Dutchman becoming the player he is today. For that Robin, you owe us a quick answer – stay if you want to, go if you have to – but please save us another summer of suffering.
Enjoy your weekend.