The Gunners' exciting transfer market activity leaves want-away forward in an awkward situtiation.
"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." – Robin Van Persie, July 4.
With that one statement, delivered on Independence Day 2012, Robin Van Persie became the latest in a string of Arsenal players to break ranks and publically question the club’s ambition, either as a parting shot to justify their departure, (see Nasri, Samir, and Clichy, Gael) or as in this case, to attempt to force through a move out of North London.
No matter what Arsenal fans may think of ‘La Mercenarie’ Samir Nasri, it can’t be denied that at the time of his transfer to Manchester City in last summer’s transfer window, his concerns were on the whole justified, and shared by many fans of the club. Despite the signing of Gervinho, Arsene Wenger’s squad simply didn’t have the quality of their usurpers in Manchester, and despite a flurry of last-minute arrivals, question marks persisted around the Frenchman’s transfer strategy.
With Barca-bound captain Cesc Fabregas also departing the club, Arsenal went on to endure a frustrating campaign, with the 8-2 debacle at Old Trafford a particular low point. Despite their struggles, Dutch striker Van Persie was the Gunners’ shining light, scoring prolifically throughout the season and almost singlehandedly dragging Arsenal into a 3rd place finish.
Immediately however, questions were raised about the new captain’s future at the club, with just a year remaining on his contract. And when the above statement was made, a moment Arsenal fans had been dreading all summer, it came as a huge blow.
However looking again at Van Persie’s words throws up some interesting contradictions and contrasts with previous summers at The Emirates.
“it has again become clear to me that we in many aspects disagree on the way Arsenal FC should move forward."
At the time Van Persie made this statement, Arsenal had already captured the signature of a striker with over 100 international caps in Lukas Podolski, as well as signing Frenchman Olivier Giroud, fresh from leading Montpellier to their first Ligue 1 title and topping the scoring charts in the process. Now I’m not sure which direction Robin Van Persie considers to be ‘forward’, but most Arsenal fans will agree that this impressive double signing was more a giant leap rather than a small step in the right direction compared to previous summers.
So what part of Arsenals’ early raid of the transfer market didn’t live up to RVP’s expectations? Was he expecting Neymar, Messi, Ibrahimovich? Or could his statement, god forbid, actually be a smokescreen in order to deflect attention away from him, onto the higher powers at the Emirates? “Surely not!” I hear some cry.
Well, Arsenal’s imminent capture of Spain international Santi Cazorla may finally show whether there is honest truth in what Van Persie said. The signing of the Malaga winger, a stalwart presence in the international tournament juggernaut that is the Spain national squad, and one of the most highly rated players in La Liga, surely is the biggest indicator yet of the Gunners’ ambition for the new season.
With three very promising signings in place, and England’s next great hope in Jack Wilshere scheduled for an October return, Arsenal look better prepared for a potential title challenge than at any point over the last few seasons. They may still be leagues behind the two goliaths in Manchester, but the signs are promising.
And with that in mind, Robin Van Persie risks ruining his relationship and reputation with the Arsenal faithful by pushing through a move away from the club, especially if he continues to push the agenda laid out in his Independence Day statement.
Arsene Wenger has responded to this summer’s problems in the best way possible, assembling an ambitious and exciting squad for the new campaign, leaving his want-away captain without a leg to stand on regarding his previous announcements. Your move Robin.