Wednesday, 4 July 2012
And so we bid farewell to yet another captain. We're beginning to make a nasty habit of it at Arsenal.
Today our talismanic striker Robin van Persie released a statement that declared he would not be signing a new contract with the club and thus ending his time with us. He stated that after meeting with Wenger and Gazidis, the two groups disagreed with how the club should move forward. It's not officially confirmed that he's leaving us right away - he still has a year left on his contract. But seriously, what human-being is going to stick around at his job for 1 more year, full in the knowledge that he's going to be leaving afterwards, and for free as well? Robin understands that this statement ends his time at the club because there's no way he's playing for us this year - the fans would crucify him every game; no one would support a player we all know is leaving. Plus Arsenal would be mad to let him walk for free next year; they'll look to offload him for the highest possible price this summer instead.
I've been a huge fan of van Persie's right from the beginning. It was that last minute curler against Southampton in the 04/05 season that did it for me. I thought, "this guy is really something, what a left foot." Unfortunately injuries and inconsistency slowed his progress but every time he played you could tell he had something special. His mastery over the ball is second to none - he can control it in ways few can and he places it wherever he wants. This past season we witnessed what a fully-fit and healthy van Persie can really do over an entire season. Gifted the captaincy at the beginning of the year, the Dutchman revelled in it and went on to record a remarkable year, scoring goals at will on his way to picking up Player of the Season awards across the board. His 2011/12 campaign was one of the greatest in Arsenal's history and puts him right up there with the greats - very few Arsenal strikers have recorded 30+ goals in a single season (37 in 48 appearances).
Which is exactly why it's so sad it has to end like this. After the disaster of last summer when we lost our best two midfielders in Fabregas and Nasri, the club will want to avoid a repeat of that nightmare. Van Persie will be sold to the highest bidder and probably as soon as possible. I'm just praying he doesn't join one of our Premiership rivals, ESPECIALLY Man City. If he moves to Barca or Juventus I wouldn't be quite so upset, but if I have to endure him scoring for fun on Match of the Day every weekend I might cry a bit.
Looking on the bright side, I suppose we can take heart that at least the club prepared for van Persie's departure. The signings of Podolski and Giroud look extremely clever now. The pressure will be on them to perform and deliver the goods - every Arsenal fan in the world will be praying they can.
I really didn't think he'd leave. I thought he was different. "He's not like the rest of them, he loves the club for real" I said. If nothing else, van Persie's statement today has taught me a lesson in naivety and that football has changed immeasurably since I was a kid. Loyalty means nothing to footballers anymore and money talks, like it always does. And why shouldn't it? Van Persie doesn't owe us anything, not really. If you were offered a new job that doubled your wages and promised bonuses (trophies), you'd do exactly the same. It's just a shame we've lost that romantic aspect of football, where players truly played for the name on the front of the shirt and not the one on the back. But what else do we really expect nowadays? Ultimately van Persie's departure shouldn't be of any surprise. That doesn't mean it doesn't hurt.
Hey, maybe Wenger will call an emergency meeting and all will be resolved before the weekend. Van Persie said it himself: "As soon as Mr. Gazidis is back from his 2-week holiday in America further meetings will follow and I will update you if and when there are more developments." Maybe they'll talk it out everyting will be ok? Soon we'll see photos of RVP shaking hands with the boss, announcing he's signed a contract that'll see him finish out his career with us. I can dream can't I? In all seriousness this is surely the end of RVP at Arsenal, and it's a real shame.
At least he went out with a bang.
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