Aroused from my blogging slumbers again, now what is it this time? This had better bloody well be important.
Well, it’s Robin van Persie to all intents and purposes handing his notice in, without actually handing his notice in. Not extending his contract is all down – he says – to the fact that “we in many aspects disagree on the way Arsenal FC should move forward.” Not financial, he says.
Arsenal countered with a brief statement, saying “Robin has one year to run on his current contract and we are confident that he will fulfil his commitments to the Club.”
Naturally there’s shock and anger and resignation and belligerence, but I ask you this: Are you really surprised? He has just a year to go on his contract, no doubt having had ample opportunity in the last year or so to renegotiate it should he have desired. This always seemed a likely outcome and in light of this information, Arsenal must have thought so too having already bought two strikers for around £23m. This now seems like a very shrewd move.
The manner of it is a bit galling, posting it on his own website, without Arsenal knowing, clearly wanting to push the issue. The pally tone of the announcement will sting with some people but I’m too long in the tooth to get too flustered by it all. Players leave, players arrive. Life goes on and the best you can do is to prepare for it – something we didn’t do last summer, but have addressed this time.
I don’t blame him, why should I? He’s done eight years at Arsenal, an age for a modern footballer. He’s been a good pro, a role model, and the only real regret is that he didn’t play more. Yes, we stuck with him when he was injured but he’s given us a lot of enjoyment – particularly the 37 goals last season – in return.
And whether you believe or you don’t believe his comments about it not being financial, are we all at peace about the direction of the club ourselves? We’re so not.
Has he backed Arsenal into a corner in which they have to accept a low fee? We shall see about that. The Arsenal response suggests that they won’t bow out quietly and nor should they. We do have one bargaining hand – holding him to his contract. It’s not entirely fanciful even if bridges have been burned to a cinder.
But the likelihood is, unless he is Rooneying us into paying an absurd salary (I find this unlikely), that we need to do a deal sooner rather than later. I don’t care much where he goes so long as it’s not to another English club with whom we supposedly compete for trophies (you at the back with the hollow laugh – see me later). That for me would be the salt in the wound. If it was City, that’s three years running. We can all titter a bit – a lot, maybe – about the ones we offloaded before but this would be different, essentially an admission that ‘we’re not serious about challenging you for this’. (You at the back with the hollow laugh – join your friend by the headmaster’s office).
We’ll see how this pans out. Messy end though it might be, I find it hard to get my blood up unless he takes the sheikh’s shilling. And even then – broiling internally is not good for the health. He’s a lovely player. Let’s sort it out and move on.