I’m sure that I’m not alone in wishing that this had been sorted out before now. As it stands, we still don’t know where Robin van Persie will be playing after September 1. And while this situation is far from ideal, I wonder if as fans we’re blowing the whole thing out of proportion, because I’m not entirely sure it matters where he ends up this summer. Let me explain.
I want van Persie to stay. It’s important that I state this here before I continue. We’re a better team with him, no question. Now, as a fan, was I disappointed with his statement of discontent a month ago? Of course I was. But football has never been more controlled by players and their agents as it is today. Football is more of a business than ever, and is being treated accordingly. And as the players are the most valuable commodity a football club has, then they also will be treated accordingly.
Just look at what Liverpool did with Luis Suarez, they gave him a new deal, despite him having FOUR years left on his old deal. Why? Because he was “unhappy” with his old deal.(Or “he realised he was being underpaid and was pissed because of it”. You decide.) So instead of risking Suarez kicking up a fuss and begin to force an exit, they placate him and stump up the cash. Now Liverpool have Suarez under contract for five years and £90,000 a week, instead of four years and £35,ooo a week. And we wonder why football clubs are losing money hand over fist.
So with players in control of clubs to this extent, it never surprises me when someone has a good 12-18 months and is suddenly agitating for a move away from the club. Sometimes they want to leave, sometimes they just want to pressure on the board to pay them what they think they “deserve”, but as soon as a player has a breakout season, then it’s only a matter of time before it’s followed by a statement of some sort. Even Alex Song has been at it this week, saying he’s “happy” at Arsenal but is flattered by interest from Barca. All it is, is Song’s agent waving at the board, who just happen to be trying to give RvP and Theo Walcott more money, and is looking for them to throw some extra cash his way as well. That’s all.
So with this in mind, I’m not entirely fussed if RvP leaves. Again, I want him to stay, but if we can’t get him to agree to a new deal then selling him on is the next best option. And here’s where I may differ greatly from most Arsenal fans, because if we indeed end up having to sell him, then the destination is the least of my concerns. Most fans will label him as some sort of “Judas” or “traitor” for leaving us for a rival but I am completely non-plussed about it. The fact that he’d be gone would far outweigh where he ends up.
Seeing him playing for Man Utd would stink, no doubt about it. But seeing them spend £20million or more on a 29 year old striker when they are in dire need of help in centre midfield would soften the blow a bit. The last thing Man Utd need is someone who can create from playing up top on his own, playing both RvP and Rooney in the same team would mean one of them playing deeper and being less of at threat. If they want to blow precious funds on a player that doesn’t appreciably improve them, then let them, that’s what I say.
The worst thing about selling RvP to Man Utd is listening to United fans gloat about it. That’s all. And when did singing songs about summer signings ever when a trophy? The most important thing here isn’t the fact that we’re selling van Persie, it’s how the club responds afterwards. Clubs lose players all the time, some favoured by fans, some not. And if we want to be contending for trophies this year, then our focus should be on sourcing RvP’s successor and not on calling him names for leaving. If he goes, then fine. Life goes on.
Seeing van Persie score goals in Manchester will stink, but do you know what I’ll be watching instead? Us. If you haven’t seen the first half of the Cologne match from last Sunday, do yourself a favour and watch it immediately. We had a front five of the Ox, Cazorla, Podolski, Giroud and Walcott, and as ordinary as the Germans were, we tore them to shreds. Cazorla in particular was a joy to behold, his range of passing from either foot seemed to open up a myriad of options and routes for those around him to run into. It was nice for a change to see us have multiple ways of scoring goals, whether it was from a Cazorla pass or a Walcott run or from some hold-up play by Giroud.
We haven’t had that since we moved to 4-3-3, which was created to get the most out of Cesc but never really had the players to fit in the system. Now we have the players, and in Cazorla, we have someone to make the most of it. And this was without either Arteta OR Wilshere beside him. We’re looking in good shape for the season, and adding RvP to that would only help. And if he leaves, then all we would need quality back-up for Giroud and Podolski up front.
The most important thing to consider here is that we are in control of both of those options. If he stays, then we’re good. If he leaves and we bring in a replacement, then we’re good. The only thing that could harm our chances is to spend all our time sulking over his departure. So why bother? I’m going to the game on Saturday, and he plays, then I’ll be cheering for him. I’ll cheer for anyone who is wearing our shirt and is trying to win. I care more about Arsenal winning than I do about who’s playing and who’s leaving. And if RvP wants to leave, then good luck to him. I just look forward to us proving him wrong.------------
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