Robin van Persie and the Case Of The Last Big Contract
The next time Robin van Persie puts pen to paper, it will almost definitely be the defining moment of his career. It will be the moment he decides what’s important to him as a footballer, and in many ways, as a human being. Do you chase titles and trophies, go after the very things you dreamt about when you were a kid? Or do you stay with the club you love till the end, even if probably means allowing certain ambitions to fly away in the wind? One thing that’s for sure is it won’t be easy, and there will be people who sneer at him whatever decision he makes. Be it the wrath of the jilted Arsenal faithful, who would have to watch another suitor slip away to a flashier but supposedly less substantial girl, and would not take kindly to it. Or the rest of the footballing world, that will look to the solitary FA Cup medal he won as a teenager and sneer that he was too great a player to have won as many trophies as Alex McCleish’s managerial career has yielded, and he took what was comfortable over truly challenging himself. It’s a tough call. But because I’m a nice guy, I’ve assessed all the potential outcomes and provided a basis of what might happen here to y’all.
Signs a New Long Term Contract With Arsenal
MY ODDS: 8/1
I’m sure Arsenal fans would disagree, but I consider this to be one of the less likely of scenarios. Looked at without emotions or attachments, Arsenal face an uphill battle to challenge for a league title in the immediate future. Maybe they can give it a shot, but they have finished 20 points off the pace two years in a row, and it seems unlikely they can bridge that gap, when Manchester City and Manchester United will be better outfits next year. Van Persie will know Arsenal can’t compete with bigger clubs in the transfer market, and have a tendency to sell their best players when money comes a-knocking. Committing to this club for the next 5 years would be an enormous risk, and in all likeliness, would be writing off any Champions League/title ambitions he might have. Reasons he might do it: his family is happy in London, he clearly loves the club, which has stuck by him through injuries. Maybe loyalty trumps ambition. But I doubt it.
Stays with Arsenal for a final year, sees out contract, and leaves on a free transfer in 2013
My Odds: 4/1
I view this as perhaps the most likely scenario. I believe that Wenger could maybe convince the Arsenal board to resist all offers, arguing that they need him for a final year to finish their rebuild – that Podolski and Giroud can have a year to adapt to English football without the whole club riding on them to succeed. And for van Persie, maybe Wenger could convince him that with a full strength defence, with the return of Jack Wilshere, and with their new and improved attack, they CAN compete for the title next year. Give Wenger a year to show van Persie that this team can compete, and maybe he signs a new contract next year instead of leaving. Or if he still leaves, it gives Arsenal a year to steady the ship before the impact. Still might happen.
Signs for Manchester City
My Odds: 5/1
There’s a ring of inevitability to it, and although I’d argue that Manchester City don’t particularly need him, they will come for him. Wenger will not want this, and there will be an “anywhere but City” feeling amongst fans. But City will offer the most money, they offer him a chance to join a Premier League winning team, and the chance to stay in England. They’re a club with their future firmly in front of them, and one that seems to enjoy signing Arsenal players – clearly. But at the same time, I don’t think Ivan Gazidis is going to be easily sold on the idea of not cashing on Van Persie, and assuming he doesn’t sign a new contract, this summer is when Gazidis has to sell. And City know how to play this game.
Signs for Juventus
My Odds: 9/1
I think this move would be a much more viable option than people seem to think. Juventus are Serie A champions, went the entire season unbeaten, and with van Persie leading their line, could make a serious dent in the Champions League next season. Yes, the Italian league doesn’t have the appeal or reputation that it once did, but Juve are one of the biggest clubs in Europe, and have openly expressed interest. I think van Persie would be foolish in not considering them at all, but the scandal-ridden Serie A’s trouble in attracting world-class players is amplifying, and I expect van Persie to be no exception. It’s a possibility, but an outside bet.
Signs For Real Madrid
My Odds: 9/1
Real seemed like the most natural fit for Van Persie, away from the Premier League and thus not scorning Arsenal fans, and a home at a club that has made its way by paying big money for the best players in the world. He would be surrounded by world class players, and his competitor would be Karim Benzema, who I think van Persie probably has the drop on in terms of quality. But Real have expressed little to no interest up to this point, even as they have pursued Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez. This implies the thought of paying £30m or so to acquire his services seems unlikely now. But no-one is looser with their purse than Real, so don’t count it out.
Signs for Manchester United
My Odds: 15/1
United have two young strikers who might come into their own next season in Welbeck and Hernandez, but a goalscorer of van Persie’s proven repute to partner Rooney would make them favourites to win the league, in my opinion. The two scored close to 60 goals between them in the Premier League last season, and would surely reclaim back the title for United. Having said that, Ferguson pays big money for big name players in emergency situations only; he prefers to get deals and grow his own players. A transfer like this wouldn’t be his modus operandi. But then again, he knows City are always going to spend, and he has to keep up with them somehow. Expressed no interest yet, but then again, the fight hasn’t properly kicked off yet either. Wait and see.