He leaves when he wants. He leaves when he Wah-ah-ahnts… Arsenal have agreed to sell striker and captain Robin Van Persie, the reigning EPL player of the year, to Manchester United for $36 million. The 29-year-old Dutchman is en route to Manchester, to agree to a contract and pass his physical.
For these two clubs to transfer players is exceedingly rare. The last Arsenal player to leave for Manchester United was Viv Anderson in 1987. The only other player to cross that line since was reserve defender Mikael Silvestre in 2008. It is a sign, in the mega-cash era, the two clubs no longer view each other as primary rivals and the clubs are no longer rivaling for the same stature.
For Manchester United: Glass half-full, this may be a brilliant signing. Since 2008, Van Persie has 89 goals and 46 assists in 147 appearances. Man U now has the EPL’s two top scorers from last season. Both are versatile and link up play well. With Welbeck and Chicharito, United should have the deep, versatile strike force to let them keep up with Manchester City. He will be the player they thought they were getting when the paid heavily for Dimitar Berbatov and give them firepower they haven’t seen since Ronaldo left.
Glass half-empty, It is a hefty price for a 29-year-old player coming off a career season, who at best has two or three more seasons at peak form. Van Persie’s injury history should be especially worrisome, since he has made 40 appearances just three times in his 11-year professional career. He had missed at least 10 EPL matches per season every year until 2011-12. In an ideal world, Manchester United’s major signing would have been five years younger and a dynamic midfielder.
For Arsenal: In a vacuum, this deal makes sense. Van Persie is 29. He has one year left on his contract and would not sign a new one. Manchester United met Arsenal’s asking price. The asking price, for a player in his circumstances, was a steep one. The club had already prepared for this eventuality by signing two players, Giroud and Podolski, who played his position.
In context, this deal will be hard to swallow. This continues the pattern of Arsenal as feeder club. Van Persie departs just after Fabregas, Nasri and Clichy left last season. More top players leaving means more players behind them itching to depart. This signing hurts especially. He wasn’t going home to Barcelona, or letting Manchester City double his salary (He won’t make significantly more at Man United). Van Persie is leaving because he feels the club lacks ambition. The only financial flexibility obtained from the new Emirates Stadium seems to rest with the shareholders who cashed out.
[Photo via Getty]
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