For Arsene Wenger and Arsenal fans, it must be a case of déjà vu as yet another big name refuses to extend his stay at the Emirates Stadium.
This time, it’s Robin van Persie, arguably the most talented striker in the Premier. There will be no shortage of suitors, but it looks increasingly thought he will join a cluster of his former team-mates in the Manchester City revolutionary army.
RVP is being accused of lacking loyalty by some myopic Gunners’ fans. After eight years, 94 goals and 194 games, I don’t think such sentiments can be aimed at the flying Dutchman. That’s good service and at 28 years of age, he’s done his bit for Arsenal.
What is driving RVP’s refusal to prolong his contract beyond the year he has remaining? Silverware. Arsenal won the FA Cup in RVP’s first season – a game in which he came on as substitute and scored one of the penalties that clinched the trophy in a dire contest – and since then the trophy cabinet has been full of cobwebs. Arsenal have won plaudits, but precious little else. RVP has seen his pals go elsewhere and line their pockets with medals. He wants some of that.
To be frank, there’s no hotter player than RVP at present. He scored 37 goals last season, 30 in the Premier and turned in some spectacular performances – such as the hat-trick he netted at Chelsea in October as Arsenal ran the home side ragged. And then there’s the four goals he scored for the Netherlands in an 11-0 win against San Merino. He was named both the FWA Footballer of the Year and the PFA Player of the Year. Respect is high for the former Feyenoord player.
He arrived at Arsenal as a winger and like Thierry Henry, was converted to a centre forward by Wenger. That was another masterstroke by the Arsenal manager. The £ 2.75m he paid for RVP was extremely good business – he will surely fetch more than 10 times that figure when Manchester City come calling.
What does this mean for Arsenal? A big gap to fill – but at least they have two new strikers in Lukas Podolski and Oliver Giroud. The pressure will be on them to deliver….as it will Wenger.