Robin van Persie, a long admired target of Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini, has declared that he will not be signing a new contract at Arsenal for what appears to be “footballing reasons” – an oft-used reason recently.
The Gunners’ talismanic striker, who has only one solitary FA Cup winners’ medal to show for eight years’ service at the Emirates Stadium, cited concerns over the future direction of Arsenal after announcing that he would not be extending his stay beyond the one single year he has left on his current deal.
The Arsenal pay structure might not be the most lucrative in the Premier League but manager Arsene Wenger has worked miracles while insisting he needn’t spend vast sums of money to boost the squad and maintain a title challenge.
It would appear that van Persie’s patience over the lack of recent silverware plus his “deep reservations” about “many aspects” of Arsene Wenger and Chief Executive Ivan Gazidis’ policies over future plans, a view shared with many Gunners’ fans, has finally worn thin.
Arsenal director Alisher Usmanov, who owns a 29% share of Arsenal compared with majority shareholder Stan Kroenke who owns 63%, was quick to publically criticise the club’s policies for effectively signalling the exit of the prized striker and captain.
All eyes now fall on Manchester, with City easily able to afford a massive pay rise for the 28-year old striker who will turn 29 in August. Van Persie himself has said he would move abroad if he were ever to leave Arsenal but financial turmoil on the continent could see his potential pay packet at big European clubs such as Paris St Germain, Barcelona or Real Madrid limited due to the falling value of the Euro and increased taxation in mainland Europe.
Question-marks will arise, too, about the fitness of van Persie, whose best season’s return last term was due to an injury-free campaign. Could the Dutchman still represent value-for-money even at a cut-price £12m considering the injuries that limited his impact for most of his years at Arsenal?
Roberto Mancini sees van Persie as a forward who can fit any role in a front three, much like Mario Balotelli perhaps, but the fiery Italian arguably has his best years ahead of him and City would have to sell one or more of their many forwards to accommodate another.
If Sir Alex Ferguson could pull off a transfer coup he might see van Persie as an effective replacement for Dimitar Berbatov. The Dutchman’s extra pace and movement would fit in with the tactics being developed as United redevelop their squad but could they afford to pay the wages demanded by van Persie?