A mere week ago I took a bit of a beating for daring to discuss what life would be like as a Gooner without the mega-talented Robin van Persie. What’s more, I actually took the stance that if he were to leave, it wouldn’t be the end of the world as many are assuming. I don’t want to re-hash everything I already said, so if you feel so inclined, go back and read the article here. With RvP clearly stating he intends NOT to return to the Emirates as a Gunner, I want to briefly discuss what might become a growing trend at Arsenal.
Before moving on, if you haven’t already read his statement here it is, straight from RobinVanPersie.com.
There are several particularly poignant issues I have with this letter from Persie to fans. It is clear that he is either A) really upset with Wenger (and Gazidis) lack of wanting to spend, or B) is using that as a smokescreen for another underlying issue. Let’s deal with “A” first.
It is no secret that Arsene Wenger guards his wallet much like the Tower guards protect the crown jewels or the secret service guards the President. Wenger has been highly criticized by football fans around the world, perhaps most harshly by Arsenal’s own. Being active in the Twitter world along with other social avenues that discuss Arsenal’s matches, I can say there is no shortage of opinions as to where Arsenal should spend its money. Some are unhappy with the Koscielny-Vermaelen-Mertesacker combo, and believe an upgrade of one or two of them are essential. Others believe Kieran Gibbs, while certainly talented, is not of good enough calibre to play top-flight football just yet. Midfield depth and support for RvP were also often cited (which was solved with Podolski and Giroud) as requirements. In any case, one thing that can be agreed upon is that Arsenal need to spend, now.
Let’s assume for a moment that Persie was being truthful, and that he felt Arsenal were not putting itself in a position to make a serious run at the Champions League and Premier League titles – after all, he claims not to care about money, but wants a brighter trophy shelf. Does this make him selfish? Does this make the pill easier to swallow? I think not, but I’m not entirely surprised either.
Sports are riddled with athletes taking care of “Number One” first, leaving fans and clubs in their dust – at least that’s our perception. Can we blame them? I think what makes this situation much more difficult for Arsenal fans is the fact that the sting of Cesc Fabregas leaving the club for Barcelona is still fresh in fans’ minds. Just one year ago Fabregas and Van Persie were the key to Arsenal’s future. Fabregas was our captain, and by far the most important man on the pitch. Our future was bright, very bright indeed. You will undoubtedly remember the saga leading to Cesc’s departure, along with Samir Nasri to Man City. It was a difficult time.
After both players left the club, attention turned to Van Persie, who was named “Captain”. Could he stay healthy? Would he continue his torrent pace without one of the world’s greatest midfielders feeding him the ball? We all know how that turned out. Van Persie has cemented himself as one of the game’s greatest goalscorers.
Signing RvP to a new contract was important for several reasons. Not only does having him on the pitch result in more balls in the net, but also consider the attention he brings to the club. Having him on the cover of magazines, newspapers, cereal boxes and video games, as well on every news channel and on the backs of millions of fans’ shirts,whilst wearing his red and white I might add, only helps build the Arsenal brand – basically, he makes the team money. More than that, he would also attract other talented players – the “Barcelona-effect”. Great players want to be a part of something special. Losing van Persie certainly will have an impact on Arsenal, both on pitch and in their pocketbooks.
It is undeniable that RvP has done so much for Arsenal. But as most would agree the sting of him leaving on the heels of Fabregas is particularly painful. Is Arsenal developing a reputation of building great players only to lose them because their manager refuses to pay them? Are the days of Bergkamp, Adams and Vieria, legends who played and stayed at Arsenal for long periods of time, gone by the wayside?
I hope not, but sometimes I fear the worst. Today is a pessimistic day – sorry ’bout that.
…until tomorrow, lads.