Following the weekend’s joyous and much needed victory over North London arch-rivals Tottenham Hotspur, the short-term feel good factor at the Emirates could be set to be cranked up another level. Arsenal are reportedly set to make their talismanic captain Robin van Persie their highest paid player in history by offering him a £4 million signing-on fee and a deal supposedly worth well over £100,000 a week.
Usually famed for their cut-price wage structure, Arsenal are ready to make an exception for their indispensable striker, following the announcement of half-year profits amounting to an extra £49.5 million in the Gunners kitty. Whilst van Persie’s desires like all the Arsenal players surround winning trophies, it is all but certain that the club will go trophy less again this campaign, and the Dutchman will want assurances over the clubs long-term vision before any such deal is concluded.
But we ask ourselves, following the summer departures of similarly influential pair Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri, just why wasn’t a comparable ‘break the bank’ deal struck to try and hold on to the hugely talented double-act? Let us delve deeper into just why van Persie is worth so much more.
As every Arsenal fan knows now for the umpteenth time, their season has not been for the faint hearted. Where do we begin? Perhaps the 8-2 defeat to Manchester United, the 7-1 triumph over Blackburn, the 4-0 humbling in Milan, or the 5-2 victory over Spurs? In a crazy campaign, Arsenal have entertained more neutrals than most with their inconsistencies in performance. But in their captain, they have recognised at least some reliability and steadiness.
The fact of the matter simply is that Arsenal need van Persie now more than ever but does van Persie need Arsenal? With more ‘Wenger out’ populaces than ever before during the Frenchman’s tenure, Arsenal’s season has been lacklustre and unpredictable and the Dutchman’s class and goal scoring exploits have really stood out and illuminated the need to keep him in North London.
With Jack Wilshere out of the campaign thus far, Gunners who can hold their heads up high at steady seasons include a handful of pros with the goalkeeper Szczesny improving game by game and Thomas Vermaelen providing reliability and some assurances amidst a leaky defence. The key performers last term in Fabregas and Nasri were two additional forces which weren’t replaced sufficiently. Yes, Arteta has arrived and achieved a 6/10 season so far and Oxlade-Chamberlain reflects a new hope on the flanks but Arsenal’s sole player of world-class capabilities is that man; Van-Persie.
Injury has hampered much of the 28-year-olds career over recent seasons but his presence away from the side-lines and adopted role as captain has really brought the best out of a new leader and guider amongst his younger associates.
Whilst Wilshere, Fabregas, Nasri and van Persie made the Gunners tick last season, van Persie alone has bared the burden of four men’s exploits on his shoulders this term.
It is much more understandable that the Gunners are willing to part with £100,000 a week now rather than last summer to keep messrs Fabregas and Nasri. Fabregas was always going to re-join Barcelona at some point in his career and being his boyhood club, a boosted pay packet would have had less impact on his decisions stay in the Premier League.
In Nasri, the Gunners had a standout performer in the 2010/11 campaign but £100,000+ may have been a little premature for a player still learning the English game and with no long-term assurances over his form.
van Persie however is in his ninth season at Arsenal and whilst remaining loyal, has been an integral disciple of Arsène Wenger since the days at Highbury. Many Gunners fans have felt for a long time now that a prolific scoring spell was on the cards if injury was avoidable.
In a footballing world, growingly controlled by money, many fans wouldn’t begrudge van Persie his pay boost based on his individual influence imposed on a shaky Gunners outfit this term.
Amidst jibes of ‘one man team’ and ‘one man band’, Arsenal fans know their season could have been so much worse without the Dutchman’s 23 league goals and it is clear for all to see that right now, he is more important to his team than Fabregas and Nasri ever were.
Written By Taylor Wright