Arsene Wenger has reiterated his desire to keep Robin van Persie at the Emirates Stadium next season but the Dutch striker is not the first player the Frenchman has tried to keep at the club. After forcing the likes of Cesc Fabregas and Thierry Henry into one final stint in North London with mixed results, many Arsenal fans are questioning the merits of keeping another unhappy player at the club when the potential money received for him could be reinvested in the squad.
It’s a debate that has split Gunners fans down the middle for many believe Van Persie is such a talented player that keeping him is must while others feel his motivation will be affected and struggle to see the value of losing upwards of £20m for one more season. After all the prolific form he enjoyed last time out has not been a consistent part of his injury prone Arsenal career and having only signed for £2.75m from Feyenoord back in 2004, any fee received would still represent a decent profit for a player with only one impressive season on his CV. Clearly the forward possesses enough talent to attract admirable stares from Europe’s top teams but it’s unclear how inclined Arsenal will be to offloading him onto one of their rivals. Ultimately it boils down to some all important questions, would Arsenal fans prefer to keep Van Persie or sell him and if the latter then who would they be happiest selling him to?
So far Manchester City, Manchester United and Juventus have all been credited with an interest and while keeping their cards as close to their chest as possible, each team has reportedly made a tentative offer that falls well short of Arsenal’s valuation. The inevitable cat and mouse of transfer negotiations will most likely rumble on for most of the summer as Arsene Wenger plays hardball and prospective buyers try to keep the fee as low as possible but after the fiasco surrounding Fabregas and Samir Nasri last summer, many supporters are keen to conclude the issue and move on. This is because it’s becoming increasingly likely that the striker will be seeking pastures new and it’s unproductive to delay his departure so much that it becomes increasingly difficult to find a replacement, especially if transfer deadline day has anything to say about it. Many believe it’s far better to sell Van Persie before the season starts and concentrate on organizing the remaining players for an important campaign than have their preparations disrupted by uncertainty. After all one season of RVP upfront isn’t worth £20-£30m and however nostalgically fans want to remember his stint in North London, he’s often been injured and has only recently proven his worth before deciding he’s bigger than the club.
They have moved on without the likes of Henry and Patrick Vieira so clearly they can continue without the Dutchman’s influence. In fact few players who leave North London go on to bigger and better things so perhaps cashing in on a player who could leave for free next season is the wisest option. That is as long as the club receives a suitable fee for his services and unfortunately while the earlier mentioned sentiments are perfectly valid, the reality is a vicious cycle is set to ensue. The club want any deal to be done quickly and have a price in mind but buyers want the best deal and are willing to wait until Arsenal lower their demands. While they would happily keep the player, they also appreciate his desire to leave and as such require a suitable deal to satisfy all parties. It remains to be seen who will break first but it’s complicated drama that will dominate the rest of the summer transfer headlines.
Such is the inevitability of the situation that if, as expected, the striker does leave then the biggest concern is where his future actually lies. While fans may be resigned to his departure, the prospect of seeing another of their stars defecting to Manchester City is indicative of a shift in dominance currently transpiring in the Premier League. While Manchester United have openly admitted their own interest, there is still a distinct rivalry between the teams that implies Van Persie will not be allowed to join Old Trafford out of principle while City’s ‘new kid on the block’ mentality seems to allow them to take Arsenal’s top players without the club feeling quite so aggrieved. Links with Juventus are perhaps more acceptable in the eyes of the Gunners faithful as he would be playing in a different league and as such would not be reminding them of the ever increasing shift in Premier League power. It’s certainly a move that would appeal to both clubs but the Turin based side do not offer a particularly attractive challenge for a player who insists he is not concerned by money and is looking for a better chance of winning silverware.
If United and Juventus cannot conclude a deal for the striker then the sad truth is Van Persie will be plying his trade in Premier League next season but this may not be want Arsenal fans want to hear and given the lack of viable options on offer it’s becoming more and more likely the striker will be lining up in Sky Blue rather than Red and White next season.
Should Arsenal cash in on Robin van Persie? Should they keep the striker and let his contract expire to get one last season out of him?
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