Not for the first time this season, Arsène Wenger has been moved to address Robin van Persie's contractual predicament following a talismanic, game-winning performance by the Dutch striker. The Frenchman yet again upheld his indifferent stance, preferring to absolve responsibility in the situation by giving his captain the time to make up his mind.
There's no doubting his importance to the squad - and none of us need to be reminded that Clichy, Fabregas and Nasri left this summer, although every comment on Arsenal this season seems to be suffixed with said fact – and van Persie was quick to articulate his commitment to the Emirates club soon after his free-kick secured three vital points to finally elevate the Gunners in to the Premier League's top-half. "I am committed to Arsenal and that's how it is," explained the forward, who scored his seventh goal in 11 appearances overall this campaign. "I can see how frustrating it is from the fans' point of view but I am committed. This is my eighth year here and if you can say about one player that he is committed, it's me," he added.
But surely his commitment is justified remuneration for the loyalty the club has shown him over years of persistent injury. van Persie has never started more than 24 League games (63%) in any of his six full seasons in English football, and although he can be described as having an irregular-to-decent goal-scoring record over that time (1 in every 2.38 games), his 28 goals in his last 34 games underlines not only his undeniable significance in a team so desperately requiring direction, but also his status as one of the globe's most potent finishers.
van Persie's form has been explosive and sudden, but it has also been long overdue. Having maintained faith that this sequence would eventually transpire, Wenger stood by the 59-capped Dutch international, and the favour must be repaid. There will be no question of an increase to his current £80,000 per-week salary, that's a given, and having been bestowed the honour of the club's captaincy following Fabregas' sale, van Persie's decision should be straight forward.
But rampant Manchester City continue to complicate such matters, and are predictably the club most closely linked to the 28 year-old. The time when players such as Gareth Barry, Joleon Lescott and Carlos Tevez could be accused of signing for the Eastlands club out of pure financial greed has long since passed, and the reality for Wenger is that Roberto Mancini's side represent a highly competitive force both domestically and in Europe. It is likely that considering his professionalism, experience and age, van Persie is simply searching for a final opportunity for glory and recognition, and will only be tempted away from London by a club with serious and immediate ambitions. The quandary has a distance to run - hopefully not as far as the Fabregas-to-Barca saga, - but a continuation of Arsenal's recent resurgence (five consecutive home victories) will surely be enough to convince RVP to stay.
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