Yesterday afternoon, Arsenal captain and talisman Robin van Persie announced that he was not signing a new deal. He stated that the subject of money had not even been approached, and the difference of opinion in how to make the current squad into a trophy winning one was the reason behind his decision.
On the surface, for me anyway, I thought this was a perfectly reasonable explanation for his decision not to extend his current deal, and essentially leave the club this summer. He has been at Arsenal for 8 seasons, and only has the FA Cup to his name. Looking from this from an objective point of view, he has seen teammates such as Ashley Cole, Kolo Toure, Gilberto, Gael Clichy, Samir Nasri, Cesc Fabregas, Thierry Henry, Mathieu Flamini, Eduardo and even Adebayor leave and win honours with new clubs.
Van Persie is 28 and doesn’t believe that Arsenal can win things.
And what is wrong with that? Of course, fans will look to loyalty but he has been with the club for 8 seasons and as far as I’m concerned, given everything when he’s worn the Arsenal shirt. Arsene has admitted that coming 4th in the Premier League is like winning a trophy and this is a team that couldn’t beat Birmingham in the Carling Cup Final. Of course we were unlucky in the Champions League Final against Barcelona in 2006 and if we had won that we would be in a different place than we are now, but that’s a different argument for another day.
Many, many Arsenal fans have said on more than one occasion over the past 7 seasons that with this current board and this current manager, that we won’t win trophies. That we are a feeder club, a club that can’t compete financially, both in terms of transfer fees and wages, Arsene is too stubborn and won’t sign the additions we need to really challenge for honours, and so on.
Don’t you think these things filter out to the players?
We all think that players are in their own little bubble but Van Persie was an Arsenal player that really did love Arsenal – he showed it when he wore the shirt, he showed it when he did social events and showed it off the pitch as well. He involved himself in more things that most other players and you could tell he loved being at Arsenal. But it’s clear we don’t match his ambition and is that his fault?
The response from the majority of Arsenal fans has been less that complimentary. Many fans point to loyalty, citing that we and Arsene supported him when he was suffering from injury problems year after year. They also say he’s a mercenary just after more money. Then a few get really personal, talking about supporting him through his rape accusations and say how he’s a disruptive influence on the dressing room, has a massive ego problem and we should get rid as soon as we can.
This much is clear though, the response from Arsenal fans pretty much eliminates any possibility of Van Persie making a u-turn and staying at Arsenal, and extending his contract. With the feedback Robin has been receiving on Twitter at least, all bridges have now been burnt.
From my point of view, I’ll be gutted that he’s going just like I was when Cesc left. Whatever you might say, we’ve seen him mature into an outstanding player and last season he gave me, and us, some simply wonderful and emotional moments. Some of those goals were right up there with some of my favourite ever Arsenal strikes, the last minute winner against Liverpool in that smash and grab, the goals against Chelsea (and the one where Terry fell flat on his arse), and so many more. Say what you like, but he was sensational last season for us.
But on the flip side, I don’t think it’s a bad thing that he leaves. We have already prepared for his exit with the signings of Podolski and Giroud, and we still have a talented midfield with Song, Arteta, Wilshere, Rosicky and Walcott that will create chance after chance for our new strikers. And in all honesty, I just cannot see Van Persie recreating the form he did last season. Before last season his injuries kept him from having any sustained run in the team and his goalscoring rate was so outstanding that it would be a massive ask for him to even come close to doing the same again.
He hasn’t shown the consistency that Cesc, Titi, Bobby or Dennis did over a number of seasons. If he did then I would be even more disappointed but maybe the time is right to sell him before he gets injured again and while his stock is high. Although another point many fans outlined was that he’s essentially halved his value but signalling his intention to leave.