Robin van Persie is an exceptional striker. A proven goal scorer who unfortunately has been plagued by injuries over the years, van Persie has been a talisman for Arsenal and will now ply his trade at Old Trafford. But this deal was about so much more than one club losing a quality striker and another gaining one. Van Persie is a symbol for the state of Arsenal and Manchester United.
After agonisingly losing their title to bitter rivals Manchester City last season, United fans have been questioning where the club is heading, particularly in relation to the financial situation of the club due to owners the Glazer family. The have been begging for United to show that they can compete with big-spending Manchester City and attract a star name to the club. Van Persie is that star name.
At £15 million initially, rising to £22-24 million based on appearances (says The Telegraph), that seems to be a reasonably good deal for United but also for Arsenal. Arsenal have been foolish to once again let a player enter the final year of his contract and so left themselves with no option but to sell a player who wants to leave. They will feel that if they get to £22 million that is a good price for a 29 year old while United will feel that van Persie will make money through merchandising and returns on the pitch to make up for any extra they have paid in a fee.
For Manchester United fans, they will be delighted that a player has rejected the advances of Manchester City and said from the start that Manchester United would be his preferred destination. That will mean something to United fans and shows that the club can still compete. United will enter the new season with some optimism, realising that they only lost the title last year on goal difference in an injury ravaged campaign. If those players can stay fit, United will feel that they have every chance with their battery of quality strikers of wrestling the crown back from the blue half of Manchester. So Van Persie is a significant signing for United and will provide a boost to all sections of the club, both on and off the pitch.
For Arsenal this sale means a great deal also. It shows that they cannot compete with the top clubs any more. We perhaps knew this with the sales of Fabregas and Nasri in recent years but for sure now they have shown that their top players want to move higher up the league and to turn from Champions League qualifiers into title challengers. Arsenals stance is strange. I do not believe for one second that Arsene Wenger lacks ambition; far from it. The sale of van Persie however, possibly soon to be followed by Alex Song will have alarm bells ringing for Arsenal supporters who will acknowledge that they will not make progress if their best players continue to leave the club.
It is a shame for Arsenal because I believe they have signed well this Summer. Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud can make up for the goals that van Persie scored last season between them and Santi Cazorla is a clever midfielder who will aid their attack. But replacing van Persie’s goals is not enough. They needed to add to them if they want to push up the league. I have no concerns that Arsenal will not finish in the top four. They have more than enough quality in that squad to achieve Champions League football again and Wenger remains a quality manager. Will they challenge for the title? Certainly not.
Losing Alex Song however would be a major blow. If he does move to Barcelona, Arsenal would need to snap up a replacement imminently. Song has developed into a fantastic box to box midfielder who has also found a creative edge to his game. If he also leaves, Arsenal may find it more difficult to stay in the top four.
Robin van Persie is a statement. For United he says we can compete and will compete in the transfer market and for Arsenal he confirms their status as the best of the rest. He is the kind of signing that will influence the top of the table. Whether his absence sees Arsenal drop out of the top four I’m not sure. I think Arsenal still have enough at their disposal. Whether his arrival means United can beat City and Chelsea to the title we will have to wait and see. For sure he is a top player who will significantly improve Manchester United and weaken Arsenal.
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