Arsenal fans are quickly losing interest in the on-going Robin van Persie saga. A lot of which has to do with the rumoured positive moves the club are making to once again compete in the Premier League.
The Arsenal captain has made his bed with that ridiculous statement earlier in the summer, and maybe he overestimated his value to both Arsenal and the rest of the market. A key player for the Gunners, of course, but that importance was highlighted through 18 months of outstanding performances, rather than the year-on-year expectations that many had for him.
When Thierry Henry decided his time was up at Arsenal in 2007 (although a lot of that decision was made by Arsene Wenger, rather than the persistent nagging from Barcelona) everyone wrote the club off for the upcoming season. Fair enough, the team were hardly outstanding throughout the previous year, and the club’s only real and established star was moving on.
At that point, Cesc Fabregas wasn’t considered the focal point for the team, and van Persie and Emmanuel Adebayor were not really viewed as the obvious partnership to take on Henry’s production. But maybe in football, like other sports, it’s the moves you don’t make that are the best choices. And for the club to seem willing, for now, to avoid any contract extension and part with van Persie can only be a good thing for the rest of the squad and new arrivals.
When Henry left, the rest of the team were liberated. It was no longer about getting the ball to the captain, and players like Alex Hleb really emerged as outstanding talents away from the shadow of Henry.
With the new signings of Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud, and the increasingly likely arrival of Santi Cazorla, the team have a chance to re-brand themselves away from van Persie. Arsenal need a quarterback and a playmaker, but not one who is only looking for van Persie in the end zone. The much-desired talent is coming in, so why cast the new and exciting arrivals in the dark behind the Dutchman?
Arsenal fans have rightly built up van Persie to be an indispensable asset because there was no one else. There were no alternatives to provide the goals and, most importantly, in the absence of Jack Wilshere, there was no one else to really get fans out of their seats.
But in a surprising turn of events, the club have called van Persie’s bluff and moved very ambitiously to pursue two exciting products from La Liga. And while Nuri Sahin was not at his Dortmund best for Real Madrid last season, there is room for him in the Arsenal line up to be a key figure.
As with the departure of Henry, the club need to be liberated from the one-man-team moniker and create a strong base throughout the club. Arsenal may be losing a little bit of their identity that was present during the early-2000s via the possible departure of van Persie, but considering the way Wenger is moving in the transfer market, there is every reason to be hopeful ahead of the new season.
Bringing in established players who are ready and good enough to perform now, the club can move away from the culture of big names holding the club to ransom and demanding moves away. If Theo Walcott or Alex Song want to make similar noises to the tune of Cesc Fabregas or van Persie then fine, both can be replaced.
But the pursuit of players like Cazorla or Podolski is what should be getting everyone excited for a new season. There are surely very few Arsenal fans who wouldn’t trade van Persie for the two big names who are likely to add to the two earlier purchases. And that’s what the fans needed, the ambitious signings to soften the blow of losing a valued a previously much-liked captain.
The new signings, however, will do more than just soften the blow of losing van Persie, they will help to lay the foundation for a new chapter in the reign of Arsene Wenger. Hopefully a much more successful chapter than the one which spanned the last six years.