The news yesterday that Robin Van Persie wants to leave didn’t really come as a shock but the reaction of supporters did. Just like many of the other high-profile departures we’ve suffered in recent years, I don’t think this is about money, it’s about ambitious and talented players wanting to win things.
Let’s deal with everyone’s problems one by one…
“He’s a money-grabbing miscreant.”
He doesn’t appear to be any more money-obsessed than any other footballer on the planet, including the ones we sign. Have Oliver Giroud and Lukas Podolski joined us because they bleed the red and white of Arsenal? No, it’s because they’ll be paid oodles of money and have the chance to play with better players in a better league. In fact, Podolski has left his boyhood club so if anyone should be moaning right now its Koln supporters.
“He was injured loads in the past and should show us more commitment.”
There’s no clever response to this – it’s total tripe. If he injured himself while breaking a club curfew and falling down some stairs because he was blind drunk the argument might stand up slightly. But he is a footballer and he got injured a lot while playing football. Yes, he was being paid a lot of money while he was injured but that’s the risk you take with every player. He’s never had a great injury record so if we were that concerned why didn’t we try to sell him before? At least by going this summer we have a chance of making money by selling an injury-prone player rather than letting him slip away on a free.
“He should have told the club he was making the statement.”
RVP says in the statement that he met with Wenger and Gazidis at the end of the season. The chief exec made it pretty obvious during the supporters Q&A that they’d come to a gentleman’s agreement to not say anything during the Euros, so anyone could read between the lines to see he wasn’t renewing his contract. The club is never going to announce something not happening (ie, that he isn’t signing a new contract) so it couldn’t go on the club website. How else would we want to find out? By selling it as an exclusive to the Sun? Now that would have left a sour taste in the mouth.
“He shouldn’t concern himself with the club’s ‘future strategy and their policy’.”
Why shouldn’t he? I’m bothered about how the future of the organisation I work for and why should Van Persie be any different? He’s entitled to his opinion and has acted on it, causing as little disruption as you could hope for.
So here’s my take.
He’s seen enough over the past eight years to realise the way Wenger sets his team out nowadays, and the players he brings in, aren’t going to lead to silverware. Simple as that.
As I’ve said before, this will be the fifth club captain in eight years we’ve sold or got rid of. They previous four weren’t money-grabbing bandits and neither is Van Persie. They saw less-talented colleagues at other clubs being much more successful than them and wanted to try their hand elsewhere.
The one thing I do criticise him for is not making it clear he was happy to continue playing for the club if we didn’t want to sell him.
The most important thing is that this has come relatively early in the summer, we have his replacements in place (I will eat my Arsenal bobble hat if Wenger pays money for another striker) and we could actually get the better end of a deal for a 28-year-old with glass ankles, knees, hips and hamstrings.
But I’d much rather he signed a new contract. We continue to develop international class players who decide to leave either before they peak or when they have many years left at the top level.
If it is about money, we need to address it by changing the wage structure because Arsenal should be more than a feeder club. But if it isn’t about money and is about players doubting they can win things at Arsenal then the powers that be need to be asking deeper questions about their approach.
It looks like Van Persie put those questions to Wenger and Gazidis and didn’t like the answers. I don’t think I would either.