Robin Van Persie: What’s Love Got To Do With It
The writing was on the wall. But now that it’s happened it still hurts to acknowledge that Van Persie, our Robin, will be playing for ManUre next season.
First and foremost, let me acknowledge RvP’s immense contribution to Arsenal in 2011-12. Your form, your goals and your leadership gave us hope throughout a difficult season. Your performances helped us finish third and qualified us automatically for the Champions League and allowed Arsenal to plan with confidence for this season.
Although you’ve tarnished your legacy, many thanks for the wonderful goals over the years. As you’re moving to one of our most hated rivals though, I hope we see less of your goals in the future and more of this:
Back in April, I wrote a rather emotive piece on Robin’s contract extension talks. At the time, I felt Arsenal could never compete financially with the likes of Manchester City. It was my opinion that if Van Persie stayed, it would be purely out of love for the club. Well in the words of Patty Smyth, sometimes love just ain’t enough.
Some day soon we’ll find out what went wrong between Van Persie and Arsenal last season. Perhaps the Dutchman was always playing for a lucrative contract. Perhaps he lost faith in Arsene Wenger’s ability to steer Arsenal to glory. Perhaps his demands were too ludicrous to be met. Perhaps it was Wenger himself who froze Robin out, believing the captain had reached his sell-by date.
Whatever the reason, RVP is now RIP.
Arsenal fans are dealing with his departure in different ways. Many are rationalizing that cashing in on a 29-year old with a lengthy injury history was the right thing to do. Others are hopeful that Podolski and Giroud will fill the void. Many feel better players have come and gone and life goes on. A few are openly abusing the Dutchman for his betrayal.
I suspect a majority of fans are like me. We feel all the above emotions in varying degrees.
Because it’s true that offering a four-year contract with a reported £200k-a-week to a striker approaching 30 was never going to be sustainable within Arsenal’s business model.
Because it’s true that while Van Persie might still have a good year or two, the chances of him replicating last season’s exploits are slim – at Arsenal or United.
Because it’s true that Podolski and Giroud have the potential to score 10-15 goals a season each.
Because it’s true that regardless of who come and goes, Arsenal was, is, always will be.
Because it’s true that we are biased.
We all wear coloured glasses, that’s part of supporting a football team. It helps us deal with the highs and lows. We seek comfort in the positives and choose not to dwell too much on the negatives. And why not? All those Arsenal writers and tweeters berating Gooners for turning on Robin van Persie should question whether United supporters will continue to call their new signing Robin Van Rapist, as they’ve done in the past?
Only time will tell who benefits most from this transfer. Manchester United could be bolstered by the Dutchman’s goals and make a charge for the title, Van Persie may pick up another injury and be sidelined for six months or Arsenal could use the £24m to build a more formidable team. As Gooners, RvP is not our concern anymore. Whatever happens to him from here on is for United fans to discuss and debate.
The concern for me is that post-RvP, Arsenal fans are demanding more signings. Signings that may not materialise. If Arsene Wenger was not forced to balance the books, I am certain Le Boss would never have sold Van Persie to United. In that respect, the early signings of Podolski, Giroud and Cazorla are not so much a change of direction or philosophy for Arsenal Football Club as a reaction to last summer’s shenanigans.
There is also the distinct possibility that another key player could depart the club. Alex Song continues to be linked with Barcelona and Theo Walcott hasn’t signed a contract extension yet. More than the Van Persie sale, I am disturbed by these rumours. Because while Walcott frustrates at times and Song isn’t as defensive minded these days, they are regular starters in the team. To give our new signings the best chance of making an immediate impact, it’s crucial for Arsenal to ensure continuity elsewhere on the pitch.
We could sell Alex Song and buy Yann M’Vila who is a more traditional defensive midfielder but that would mean two out of three in midfield would be players coming to terms with a new league, a new team. As good as they may be, it takes time for players to strike an understanding and as Arsenal found out last season, once you fall behind it’s a difficult climb back up.
In my opinion, Arsenal would do better to keep Song and Walcott for at least another season. We still need reinforcements in midfield, an area where injuries deplete us every year. A loan move for someone like Nuri Sahin would be perfect. Also, there’s an urgent need for a goalkeeper to challenge Szczesny and I am not convinced Fabianski’s it.
The pleasing thing about Van Persie’s transfer is that we don’t have too much time to dwell on it. The season starts in a couple of days and matters on the pitch will take precedence. Of course, another slow start could undo all the positivity generated by our early transfer activity. On the other hand, a strong beginning has the potential to quickly consign Van Persie’s Arsenal legacy to the history books.
Victoria Concordia Crescit.