LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 05: Arsenal Manager Arsene Wenger acknowledges fans after the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Norwich City at the Emirates Stadium on May 5, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
Earlier, I spoke of the possibility of holding Robin van Persie to his contract, taking the approach that "if you're going to screw us, we should be able to screw you". While that sounds like a fine proposal, trying to ensure that we get the best out of van Persie, which is either a fee of £25m+ or another season of 25+ goals, it is unrealistic. The statement that he issued has made it clear that he wants to end his time at Arsenal football club, and, certainly, he wouldn't make such a rash statement if he didn't have a contract lined up, which also leads me to conclude that he has obviously been tapped up. Such is the modern football transfer.
Having a club lined up, and having made such a statement, van Persie will be expected to be sold soon, perhaps by the time Arsenal play Manchester City in Beijing in late July. Arsenal may try to keep him, but it does seem very unlikely given the reaction that he has provoked and the bridges he has burnt with his statement yesterday. The fans, who he allegedly cared about, have been left feeling anger and disillusionment. While the abuse that he has predictably attracted on Twitter is in no means the reaction of the majority of Arsenal fans, any appearance of him in an Arsenal shirt will be met with boos or other forms of anger. The players and management must also share similar feelings, though perhaps with less surprise. Either way, releasing such a statement is a nasty way of telling your fellow players that you want to leave.
It is also very disloyal to Arsenal, the club who made him, and the manager, Arsene Wenger, who stood by him despite injury woes. This is a man who van Persie saw as a father figure, but a man who must surely be hurt by his actions, and hurt by the way van Persie, a player and man he very much admires, insults his vision for the future of Arsenal Football Club, a vision that Wenger is the creator of. After such a statement, there can surely be no way back for van Persie; it seems, that like Samir Nasri, he has burnt his bridges with Arsenal's fans, but perhaps more importantly, he has damaged, perhaps irreparably, his relationship with Arsene Wenger.
Unlike Cesc Fabregas, van Persie is not being lured by his home-town team, a team where all of his childhood friends are playing. Cesc Fabregas' departure was different to many; it was one that was always going to happen, whether Arsenal were successful or not (and perhaps that is why Fabregas was so desperate to play in the Carling Cup final, feeling that leaving with a trophy would be much cleaner); in fact, it is easy to see Fabregas leaving if Arsenal were to win the Champions League on the basis that he'd achieved all he could, and wanted to take Barcelona back to that level. Fabregas's transfer wasn't pretty, but it was inevitable, and it was understandable, at least from my own, and many others', view point.
Van Persie does not have such a lure. Feyenoord are not a power, and Excelsior were relegated. What van Persie is doing is rejecting everything that Arsenal and Arsene Wenger stand for, no matter who he signs for. It's also in contrast to what van Persie has said in the past, and also in contrast to his own belief that he's a fan of this football club. If van Persie truly wanted Arsenal to return to their past glories, he would've signed a new contract and fought for this club, and give it a position of strength. Instead, van Persie has undermined the club, and, as captain, undermined his manger.
Even if van Persie were to stay, he'd be treated with suspicion by fans, and perhaps also by Wenger. As such, his position at the club is untenable. The commitment of van Persie to the Arsenal cause will be questioned if he stays because of this statement and its outright rejection of Arsenal Football Club and Arsene Wenger. Knowing that van Persie would be leaving in 9 months time would not help either. If van Persie had kept quiet, and handled his contract situation with the club in a private manner, there wouldn't be blatant suspicion and hatred. There also wouldn't be the burning of bridges.
Now, there's no reason to believe van Persie would be 110% committed to Arsenal, and any bad performance would be met by anger from the fanbase, and perhaps from the players too. The players can no longer hold trust in van Persie, the fans can no longer trust van Persie, and crucially, Arsene Wenger cannot trust Robin van Persie. He has truly burnt his bridges with Arsenal Football Club, and as such, a return like Thierry Henry, or perhaps even, one day, Cesc Fabregas, is not possible. Instead, van Persie will go down with the likes of Emmanuel Adebayor, Samir Nasri and Mathieu Flamini: players who will not be, under any circumstances, welcomed back at Arsenal Football Club. And for a player who seemingly held the club in such high esteem, and who's family has held, and perhaps will continue to hold the club in high esteem, it's a massive shame.
We thought van Persie was different; we thought he did truly love Arsenal and would stay, even if it meant waiting for trophies. Instead, he has kicked this football club, the fans, players and manager, in the stomach, and has shown himself to be no different from the others. There is no genuine love for Arsenal and Arsene Wenger from Robin van Persie; if there was, he wouldn't be leaving in such a way.