Arsenal players really know how to stick the knife in, don’t they? Robin van Persie, straight of out of Machiavelli’s ‘finishing-school-for-footballers’, releases a carefully worded statement that ensures that his position at Arsenal next season would be untenable.
Previously, the section of fans who would have begrudged van Persie moving away from the club in search of a new challenge were a minority, the statement released last night completely changed that.
In one, ill-advised, move Arsenal’s captain caused huge damage to the club he ‘loves’, insulted the Arsenal hierarchy and patronised the Arsenal fans.
Having ensured that it would be almost impossible for Wenger and Gazidis to hold him to the last year of his contract, van Persie has caused huge damage to the negotiating position of Arsenal.
Fans have never really presumed the Arsenal captain to be concerned with money but now there are elements of doubt. By effectively saying he will not remain at the club, Arsenal, when negotiating with other clubs, now cannot use this as a bargaining tool to raise the price.
Man City and any other bidder now have Arsenal backed in to a corner. The only weapon you have when a player is in van Persie’s contractual situation is the threat that you will keep them for one more year. Robin has taken that away from Arsenal and I would be very surprised to see van Persie now leave for more than £15m.
This is a strange thing to do, even from player looking to force a move. He could have made it clear behind the scenes that he would not accept playing for Arsenal next season but to do it in this manner has cause harm to the club.
I wouldn’t be surprised at all if it was an effort by his agent to reduce his price in order to raise the cost of his next contract at another club.
Wenger and Gazidis
There aren’t many Arsenal fans that, at some point or other, haven’t had complaints with the way Arsenal is run. Therefore you can understand that players at Arsenal would share this sentiment. However, for van Persie to openly insult Wenger’s running of the club is a low blow indeed.
On his website he states, “I don’t want to go into any details, but unfortunately in this meeting it has again become clear to me that we in many aspects disagree on the way Arsenal FC should move forward.”
Don’t be fooled, this is him saying the club isn’t being run the way he wants it to, so he’s off. Like I said, it is understandable for him to think this, but to state it in public is a slap in the face of a man who stuck by him through various injury crises, lavished praise and a captaincy upon him, built a team around him and then offered him the biggest contract the club has ever written up.
He has criticised Arsenal’s ambition and in a parting shot has ensured that Arsenal’s reputation is damaged accordingly. However you spin it, if your captain tells the world your club lacks ambition, it is an grievous insult. For a player that has, due to injury, only started, on average, 18 games per season over the last 8 years this is hardly the sort of repayment that Arsenal were looking for.
Finally, to declare this statement an ‘update for the fans’ is condescending to say the least. Robin and his agent are clearly sending a message to the club that van Persie will not be held to the last year of his contract.
Make no mistake, every line of that statement is crammed with a very serious subtext and the attempt to pass it off as something similar to Thierry Henry’s infamous farewell message for the fans is insulting to our intelligence, if for no other reason than clearly it has been written by his agent and lawyers.
These are thinly veiled insults aimed at the club and its management. If van Persie has something to say he should go out and say it. He shouldn’t try and hide behind a message on his website in which he really claims to have been trying to express his love for the club. People who love their club to the extent declared in the message don’t act as van Persie and his camp have.
The contradictions within the statement are also bizarre. In it van Persie states that, “I personally have had a great season but my goal has been to win trophies with the team and to bring the club back to its glory days.”
And he’s right, he has had great success and part of that is due to the incredible support from everybody at the club as well as the manager building a team around him. The second part of the bargain has not quite been fulfilled though. How he intended to take Arsenal back to the glory days when he had clearly decided to leave last summer remains a bit of a mystery.
Nobody is denying that, at his age, he may have needed to move on in search of trophies. However, to act as he did yesterday was as astonishing as it was damaging and disappointing. In one move, the Dutchman has strengthened his and Manchester City’s negotiating position as well as having insulted both Arsene Wenger and Ivan Gazidis. To make it worse he has used us, the fans, as his pretence for doing so. Claiming the message was for our benefit when it was, undeniably, for his.
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