This must be what being a Spurs fan feels like. This shouldn't be something Arsenal fans have to feel. 'Never sell to United', or indeed to any other rival, should be a golden rule at the club.
I'd just about grown accustomed to seeing players I love leaving the club; Vieira was my absolute favourite player and his departure probably hurt the most; with Henry it was sad, but probably the right time; with Fabregas it had been building with increasing inevitability over his last few years with us.
This, however, is a new low. Robin van Persie was a player I'd liked a lot since day one. He had a cocky swagger and an eye for the exquisite, and I always felt that he was worth waiting for, despite his rotten luck with injuries. Finally he got over his problems and fulfilled his obvious potential. He also seemed to be making a fine captain, and rescued a season that looked destined for misery.
But that's all we got. One season. One season of Robin van Persie, the world class goalscorer and captain. And worst of all, he's not disappearing to another league, out of sight and out of mind, but to that horrible lot at Old Trafford, where we will now have to be reminded of what we're missing and what they're gaining every week.
With Adebayor and Nasri it was easy to turn on them quickly. Neither were here very long and were never particularly consistent and so I never really warmed to them as players. It was a shame to see them playing for another English club, but then Man City don't really count, as they've just appeared out of mediocrity due to the sheer luck of being picked by some people with too much money and probably little interest in actual football.
It was also easy to comfort ourselves with the knowledge that they really just went for the money; the kind we could never dream of offering them. That's clearly not the case with van Persie (despite what some angry gooners have been saying on Twitter); the reality with our former captain is much worse - he has put aside the rivalry of the clubs (which, admittedly, has died down in recent years) to simply become a part of the better one; the one where he might actually win something and forge the memories that will live with him forever after he retires.
It is a mark of where we are now. Henry or Bergkamp would never have gone to United, because while they were here we truly were rivals. While we still hate United, they probably don't think too much about us - we're simply not part of the equation anymore. By selling one of our best players to them, one could argue that we have truly cemented the end to our rivalry. I mentioned Spurs at the beginning of the article, and that is pretty much what we are to them now. If we have good players, they'll be potential transfer targets, rather than a threat to their pursuit of trophies.
Unlike a lot of fans, I can't say I wish bad luck or more injuries to van Persie. I genuinely am very fond of him and that feeling can't be wiped out so quickly. While he is not up there with the Henrys and Bergkamps of this world, and is not associated with a period of success for the club, he still provides me with some great individual memories of moments of brilliance. I will always love that stunning hat-trick at Stamford Bridge and equally brilliant double at Anfield - feats even Henry never managed; that sensational volley at Charlton; that roof-lifting equaliser against Barca; and many more.
It's a very sad turn in what has been an otherwise uplifting summer. The signings of Podolski, Giroud and particularly Cazorla have been immensely exciting and created an air of positivity among the fans. That should not change now; we still have a good team, looking arguably much better than last season even without van Persie. It would of course be nice if some of this money (£24million, a very decent sum for a 29-year-old in the last year of his contract) was reinvested in one or two more exciting players, just to end on a high note before the start of the season.
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