LONDON ENGLAND - JANUARY 25: Robin van Persie of Arsenal is foiled by Marton Fulop of Ipswich Town during the Carling Cup Semi Final Second Leg match between Arsenal and Ipswich Town at Emirates Stadium on January 25 2011 in London England. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
Arsenal striker and captain Robin van Persie has revealed on his personal website today that he will not sign a new contract with Arsenal due to disagreement about "the way the club should move forward" with manager Arsene Wenger and chief officer Ivan Gazidis:
I personally have had a great season but my goal has been to win trophies with the team and to bring the club back to its glory days. Out of my huge respect for Mr. Wenger, the players and the fans I don’t want to go into any details, but unfortunately in this meeting it has again become clear to me that we in many aspects disagree on the way Arsenal FC should move forward.
I’ve thought long and hard about it, but I have decided not to extend my contract. You guys, the fans, have of course the right to disagree with my view and decision and I will always respect your opinions.
More thoughts after the jump:
Arsenal, at this point, of course, have two options, assuming that the club cannot change van Persie's mind. They can either 1) sell him now and use the funds to further strengthen the team while losing a man who scored 37 goals in all competitions last year, or they can 2) hold van Persie to the final year of his deal and let him go for free at the age of 29. The latter represents a huge, huge risk, however, given van Persie's injury history and the fact that he pretty obviously does not want to play for the club at this point in time. Given how last summer went down, selling van Persie to the team with the best offer rather than holding him to his contract seems most likely, too, by a factor of about 100 [UPDATE: statements by the club, and Wenger's thoughts on this previously, maybe make it less likely].
If he does leave, and Arsenal can garner something in the £30 million range for him, they should act quickly to bring in more reinforcements for the club. There are roughly six or seven direct replacements for van Persie on the planet earth, and none of them are walking through the doors of London Colney anytime soon, so the idea of a direct replacement is out. The club have already brought in a very good number nine in Olivier Giroud and a wing/striker in Lukas Podolski, of course. Two might not be enough at that position if Park and Marouane Chamakh aren't going to contribute a thing. But that's just striker; there are needs in central midfield as well, where targets like Yann M'Vila still lurk.
The problem with this announcement as far as that goes, though, is that it may make it slightly harder to attract top-level talent, although Arsenal should still be an appealing place for players to come to. Arsenal will need to act fast, though, with the preseason beginning in a handful of days. The timing of this announcement is a bit...awkward. To say that the mood at The Short Fuse is "grumpy" at the moment is a pretty big understatement.
Hold onto your butts. What was already a pretty silly silly season just got more-er sillier-er.