Early Doors

Self-serving Van Persie burns his bridges

Early Doors

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As a means to an end, Robin van Persie's statement yesterday was devastatingly effective.

Such was its forthright deconstruction of Arsenal's lack of ambition, it made the prospect of Van Persie staying at the club all but unthinkable. Certainly there is absolutely no way he can captain the club again without Arsenal becoming a bit of a laughing stock. If they aren't already.

Early Doors should point out it has no qualms about Van Persie's reasoning. If secretly this is about money, and a reported £220,000 per week that he can earn at Manchester City, who could blame him for leaving?

In a sport where an institution like Manchester United can relocate to the Cayman Islands, why should we expect Van Persie to be the sole figure bravely shunning the riches on offer elsewhere to prove it's not all about money? This is the Premier League, of course it's all about money. Everything is.

Equally, if a desire to win trophies is his main motivation, as he stated yesterday, then leaving Arsenal is nothing but logical. Silverware can never be assumed but it is almost certain that City will win something next season. For a man aged 29, and with only one FA Cup winners' medal to show for his long career in England, that must be a strong motivating factor.

Though Arsenal have made a couple of decent signings this summer in Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski, they don't look like title challengers or realistic Champions League contenders. Van Persie is one of football's great talents, he deserves to be filling out his trophy cabinet, not carrying a horribly mediocre team on his shoulders as he did for the whole of last season.

If he slots in alongside Mario Balotelli, Sergio Aguero, Yaya Toure and David Silva then he will be surrounded by the kind of world class talent that he deserves. Theo Walcott, Tomas Rosicky and Mikel Arteta just don't have the same cache.

Arsenal are a club that for years have been meandering along, targeting fourth-place finishes as though that constitutes a trophy in itself. Last season Arsene Wenger himself said that they couldn't be considered a big club if they lost Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri, which they promptly did. When Arteta and Yossi Benayoun were brought in as last-minute replacements, it hardly cushioned the blow.

At present Arsenal are not a club set up to win trophies, to challenge for the league. They are not a club with a stature befitting of the talent of their captain and all-round inspiration.

Yet as much as ED agrees with Van Persie's reasoning, it has nothing but contempt for the way he transmitted it.

Let's just look at that statement again.

"This is an update for the fans about my current situation. I have kept quiet all this time out of respect and loyalty for the club and as agreed with Mr Gazidis and Mr Wenger, but since there is so much speculation in the media, I think it is fair for you guys to know what's really going on at the moment.

"As announced earlier this year I had a meeting with the boss and Mr Gazidis after the season. This was a meeting about the club's future strategy and their policy. Financial terms or a contract have not been discussed, since that is not my priority at all.

"I personally have had a great season but my goal has been to win trophies with the team and to bring the club back to its glory days. Out of my huge respect for Mr Wenger, the players and the fans I don't want to go into any details, but unfortunately in this meeting it has again become clear to me that we in many aspects disagree on the way Arsenal FC should move forward.

"I've thought long and hard about it, but I have decided not to extend my contract. You guys, the fans, have of course the right to disagree with my view and decision and I will always respect your opinions.

"I love the club and the fans, no matter what happens. I have grown up and became a man during my time with Arsenal .

"Everybody at the club and the fans have always supported me over the years and I have always given my all (and more) on and off the pitch. I am very proud of being part of this fantastic club for the last eight years. As soon as Mr Gazidis is back from his two-week holiday in America further meetings will follow and I will update you if and when there are more developments."

References to his own excellent season, simpering suggestions that he loves the club and its supporters, a pointed reference to Ivan Gazidis's holiday, the belief that he should have an input into his employers' strategy. This is a completely self-serving document that is a betrayal of a manager who has made Van Persie the player he is today, and who has nursed him through repeated injuries and one very notable off-pitch controversy.

By publicly bringing into question the club's ambition under Wenger, Van Persie has completely undermined a man who made him captain. What he said may be true, but he didn't need to say it out loud.

Couching his statement as a message to "the fans" and stating how he loves everyone at Emirates Stadium is an insult to the intelligence of all Arsenal followers. Fans should never expect loyalty from players, so when a player who wants to leave invokes such hollow emotions, it makes it all the more galling.

Basically, the only reason for going public was to force a transfer through. To hasten his departure. It couldn't be more transparent if it was wrapped in cling film. So why pretend otherwise?

The reference to Gazidis's "two-week holiday" made it all the more petty. Whoever advised Van Persie to release such a statement needs their head examined.

But it will work, despite Arsenal's calm and measured reaction. "We have to respect Robin's decision not to renew his contract," a club statement read. "Robin has one year to run on his current contract and we are confident that he will fulfil his commitments to the club. We are planning with ambition and confidence for next season with Arsenal's best interests in mind."

Forget the public rhetoric, Arsenal have to sell him now and he will get that deal he reportedly agreed with City back in March, or even earlier. He will leave Arsenal and win a few trophies before his career is up. Having finally shed his fitness problems, City will probably see his best years as well.

But the manner in which Van Persie has sought to engineer a departure that looked inevitable in any case leaves a desperately bitter taste in the mouth. It didn't need to end like this.

- - -

KIT OF THE DAY: We are shunning our usual quote of the day to bring this abomination to your attention.

FOREIGN VIEW: Former Bayern Munich defender Breno was sentenced to three years and nine months in prison by a Munich court on Wednesday after being found guilty of setting his house on fire. Judge Rosi Datzmann ordered the Brazilian player, who had been on bail pending the outcome of the case, to be taken immediately into custody. Breno's house, in the leafy Munich suburb of Gruenwald, burned down last September while he was recovering from injury.

COMING UP: We get Paul Parker's reaction to the Van Persie news, which should be fun.

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