Robin van Persie has shown Arsenal none of the respect the club and its supporters deserve. Perennially injury-stricken, the 28-year-old only demonstrated his full potential during last season. Until then, van Persie had missed at least 10 games every year.
Despite this, his goalscoring record for Arsenal is hardly shameful. 96 goals in 194 league games, more or less a goal every two matches. The frustration and disappointment of Gunners supporters is entirely understandable, as on so many occasions over the past year, van Persie has been carrying the team.
Some players enjoy being the “big fish” in a small pond. For years this satiated Cesc Fabregas at the Emirates Stadium. He was made captain, the team was built around him, and the Spaniard enjoyed the adoration and respect of all those in red across north London and beyond. Eventually, however, this “perfect” scenario began to bore the midfielder.
Unlike van Persie, Fabregas has been fortunate enough to achieve spectacular success with the Spanish national team, while the current Arsenal skipper saw his Netherlands side lose out to Fabregas’ Spain in South Africa two years ago. Perhaps it was the failure in Poland and the Ukraine that finally did it, or possibly van Persie has simply decided to move while his stock is high: whatever the reasoning, it seems that being the King of the Emirates simply doesn’t do it for him any more.
It is only natural too, that a player would look to cash in on recent success. Many footballers have done this; perhaps they have enjoyed a successful international tournament that belies their lowly club career, and through scoring a goal against Ghana or Denmark they find themselves suddenly in the Premier League, earning a comparative fortune in a competitive, high-profile division. In van Persie’s case, whatever club he moves to next will be capable of furnishing him with equal peers, not team-mates he must carry and unwillingly lead.
Juventus appears the most likely destination for the want-away captain, with Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain representing the “evil” option of money and empty success. All of these sides will be competing for trophies next year. The sad truth is that Arsenal simply will not. Arsenal are rebuilding, and the signings of Olivier Giroud (pictured) and Lukas Podolski will ensure that the side doesn’t slide down the table, but neither is capable of producing the unique moments of individual brilliance that characterised van Persie and the side he has led over the past season.
Football is a fickle game. Money means more than history, respect can be bought (Manchester City showed this back in May), and loyalty lasts a second, if even that. Van Persie is merely a symptom of the short-termist nature of modern football. Whatever loyalty Arsenal showed to him over the years, he may well have paid back already. The Gunners finished in the top four, and it was down to van Persie above any other individual.
I hope he chooses Juventus, and not the other two Simpsons Movie-esque “unthinkable options” because in Turin the Dutch striker has a chance to win all the trophies he was never able to at Arsenal. The Gunners will recover too; only a few years ago, the forward was an “injury prone” risk. Now he may be a superstar, but nowadays, those sort of players come along all the time, don’t they?
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