It is potentially the most important deal that Arsenal will conduct not only this summer, but in years. It surrounds captain Robin van Persie and whether he will indeed sign a new £100,000 a week four year contract or be lured by trophy winning suitors and pastures new. But as with every important deal such as this, the Gunners hierarchy has been smart to surmise a Plan B that might keep their talismanic striker a season longer than maybe expected anyway.
The Dutchman will be entering the last year of his contract in the forthcoming 2012/13 campaign, and the club have supposed a scenario whereby they will risk losing the striker for nothing, still keeping him in the short-term to ensure Champions League qualification and more of a chance of achieving a major honour.
Let us assess both the benefits and pitfalls of adopting such a transfer gamble in the eyes of the Gunners.
For the second season running now, Arsenal have had a true standout performer, and as with any players sizzling form, comes widespread interest from afar. Samir Nasri was the vital cog in Arsenal’s machine last term, linking up the play and weighing in with many goals to see the club safely into Europe. His attributes were noticed by City and the rest is history. However, in the case of Robin van Persie, the player has taken on a more outstanding role in not only his goal scoring exploits but his guidance and leadership as captain.
It remains unthinkable just where the Gunners would be without the strikes of van Persie this term, and it is wholly accepted that van Persie’s retention is more important than any other player right now in the clubs history. So can the Gunners pull off such a gamble?
Well Arsenal’s so-called Plan B move surrounding risking losing players for nothing, was initially touted as the rationale for Nasri last summer. However, Wenger wised up to the prospect that losing £24 million on the much younger Frenchman for just one more season wasn’t a gamble worth taking, considering Champions League qualification is worth £30 million to a clubs fortunes. The Professor’s contingency in relation to potentially not finishing in Europe meant Nasri could make the move up north.
The case of the current captain is much different. van Persie who has enjoyed an injury free campaign, much in contrast to his former seasons at the club, will be turning 29 this August and it is widely accepted in football that a player loses his value once closer to the age of 30 and deemed not in their prime like the 24-year-old Nasri was.
So in this respect, if van Persie stays on, the loss they make on the Dutchman is far less likely to detriment the clubs financial standing than Nasri might have, seen as clubs would be less inclined to splash a figure such as £20 million on his head. van Persie is much older and more important right now in time, so keeping the striker and losing him for nothing doesn’t seem as absurd as first billed.
As with any benefits, come pitfalls also, and in the case of Nasri, he did find himself in the awkward situation this campaign playing against Liverpool when his head had clearly been turned by Manchester City’s interest. Wenger arguably played the Frenchman against his wishes, and Gunners fans didn’t know whether to cheer or boo their hero from the last season.
It must be accepted that van Persie is more of an ‘Arsenal man’, having been at the club since 2004 and referring on many occasions to Wenger as like a father in his career. As with modern times, van Persie might become sick of Arsenal’s inconsistencies and he might not give his all if played against his wishes, but it is less likely for the Dutchman to throw a ‘strop’ much like the patient and respectful Cesc Fabregas in his last few months at the club.
Barring a dramatic fall from grace, van Persie is likely to be crowned PFA Player of the Year, but the Dutchman will need to decide whether to continue his outstanding role at the Emirates or pursue the quest for trophies elsewhere.
Article witten by Taylor Wright