The approaching summer may seem all too familiar for Arsenal fans as another key player’s contract will likely take the headlines and not for the right reasons. But Arsenal’s stunning fight back on the weekend against Aston Villa may have brought to light something to give fans a little bit of hope: the fight back was spearheaded by Robin van Persie and his half-time team talk.
There is something a little different to the way Robin van Persie has taken to the captaincy at Arsenal over previous captains. There is a necessary responsibility off the pitch as well as on it, and luckily for the Gunners they have a captain who has developed extraordinarily well as both a player and a man. More than even Thierry Henry, van Persie can feel like this is his club. There is no running away from the position he has been given by Arsene Wenger and you have to feel that he is enjoying his new role as undisputed leader in the Arsenal dressing room.
As the player continues to insist on halting contract negotiations until the summer there should be little worry from fans. Perhaps its now in their nature to expect the worst whenever an issue such as this arises—and it seems to pop up with alarming regularity. But van Persie is not chasing a move away to his boyhood and hometown club, who coincidently and frustratingly for Arsenal happen to be the European champions, there is no evidence of the player wishing to test himself on another stage in order to capture the elusive Champions League trophy, and he certainly has no in-house hostilities from which to move away from.
As like all fans of the club there is a desire from van Persie to see quality come into the first team. There’s a frustration from the player and that he simply can’t carry this team on his own as he has done for the whole of 2011. His desire, I firmly believe, is not for the astronomical wages that could be on offer at other clubs in the Premier League and abroad, but rather to win with the club he has built his family around. More over, maybe there is also a feeling that the player needs to and should repay the club for standing by him during his lengthy spells on the treatment table in the past; a romantic idea that may not have a place in modern football but which has been expressed by team-mate Thomas Vermaelen who extended his contract earlier in the season.
Despite the lack of trophies there is something a little more Tony Adams and Dennis Bergkamp about van Persie than Patrick Vieira or Cesc Fabregas. There was never a feeling that Arsenal was just a chapter of van Persie’s career, but instead that he will be at the club past his thirties and firmly establish himself alongside the icons of the club’s past. Equalling Dennis Bergkamp’s scoring record on the weekend was another small step towards that, and I feel there will be more memories for the Dutchman to create at the Emirates.
We’ve heard time and again of the loyalty towards the club and a desire to stay in London from the player; making sure his family is happy and comfortable will be paramount in his final decision at the end of the season. But as the article points out, there is a sense of duty from van Persie to lead the club beyond this season. A desire to wait until the end of the season and see how the club takes shape is by no means a bad thing, as many fans will do the same upon deciding whether to renew their season tickets. The club’s previous misfortune in this department should not act as the precursor to what will happen with van Persie, instead a greater sense of perspective should be taken for a player who is more fitted for the club’s armband than most of his recent predecessors.