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Robin van Persie: The Possible Down Side

For the second successive summer, Arsenal F.C. have lost their club captain to one of their European rivals. The summer of 2011 saw Cesc Fabregas, the then club captain depart to Barcelona, his boyhood club. Robin van Persie, was then named the the captain of the Arsenal squad for the following season. The fans loved him and his loyalty to the club seemed strong. But at the end of 2011-12 season, the urge for silverware proved to be stronger for the Dutchman, making his intention to leave the club clear.

Even with Arsene Wenger trying everything in his power to persuade the Dutchman to stay, his efforts were in vain. The result of this? The club and the fans clearly unhappy with the sequence of events. That proved to be the case in London but if one was to travel 200 miles north of the British capital to Manchester, the red half in particular, one would see fans ecstatic about the signing of the Holland striker. Most United fans would instantly paint a picture of success for you with the Golden Boot winner being added to the club’s squad. Only time will tell whether that picture holds true or turns out otherwise. What most fans fail to consider the possible negatives that this big money signing could bring about at the Manchester club.

Firstly, the cost. With Manchester United deep in debt for the past several years, one would expect the club to spend wisely, make the most of the scouting of various youth players both within and outside the country. The reported price tag that came along with Van Persie was 24 million euros. This price, considering the form the Holland international was in throughout the last season is arguably quite fair. But with the current state of the club and the debt that is attached to it, 24 million euros is a large figure that United could have used to clear a portion of the debt.

With UEFA enforcing the Financial Fair Play Policies where clubs are forced to control the rate at which they spend, United have to be careful about how they spend their money. With Van Persie, Angelo Henriquez, Kagawa and Nick Powell all being transferred to the club this season, United have to be cautious with where they stand in all financial grounds.

The age of the ex-Arsenal hit man is another factor that has to be considered. Born on 6th August, 1983, the Feyenoord youth product is now 29, a concerning age. With a four year deal finalized with the Manchester club, the contract will see him stay at the club till he is 33. Considering the age and the money spent on the new number 20, Sir Alex Ferguson clearly wasn’t thinking of Van Persie being a long term investment. One could argue that the money spent could have been used to buy a player of a much younger age that would have had a long term impact on the club. With only a few years left in Ferguson, people would have predicted that Ferguson would have bought some young talented striker rather than an aged one so that his successor would not have a hard time with his inherited squad. Clearly, that is not the case.

The next concern is what will happen to the current strikers at the club. With Rooney established as the first choice striker, his place is not threatened. But with Danny Welbeck, Hernandez, Henriquez, Berbatov and Macheda all fighting for places in the first team, the arrival of the already established top quality striker, things have turned out to be a much tougher scenario for each one of them.

Welbeck has had an incredible past year, where he found himself in the starting eleven week after week. His chemistry upfront with Rooney was a new and exciting prospect, one to look out for. With more than frequent England call ups and club appearances, the young Manchester Academy product, with his growing confidence was heading for greater things. But now with the arrival of Van Persie, his position in the starting eleven is no longer a certainty. This could potentially also affect his England call ups since Hodgson wouldn’t be able to see him play with him on the United’s bench. Welbeck is at a critical age where such a happening could affect his confidence and growth as a player. No United fan would want to see the local boy’s growth hindered in such a way.

Hernandez found himself below Welbeck in the pecking order. Even with the Little Pea’s eye for goal, the manager considered him second to Welbeck and Rooney for most of last season. With Van Persie in the squad, the Mexican international will find things extremely hard to make it to the starting eleven. Rumours have it that Chelsea and Arsenal are after him. Hernandez, given that he is at a vital age, will soon find himself in a position where he might be forced to look to play elsewhere if the challenge to be United’s top striker proves to be too hard for him.

Berbatov is a case that need not be discussed. A player of the highest class and style, it is just sad to see that the Bulgarian struggles to fit in United’s style of play. Henriquez and Macheda still have a lot to prove to the manager as well as the fans and therefore, being loaned out for match experience seems to be the best option for the two youngsters. The Dutchman’s inclusion to the list of strikers has and will affect all of the names mentioned above.

Next, the Dutchman’s apparent affinity to the injury table. Van Persie, throughout his career has been identified as a striker with immense skill and natural talent on the ball but his career has had countless interruptions due to injuries that has kept the striker out of the game plenty of times. Ferguson has taken a big risk in signing an injury prone player in the past, in the form of Owen Hargreaves and that clearly failed to produce results. Why would Ferguson take an identical risk in signing another injury prone player? If Lady Luck fails to be with Ferguson, 24 million euros would prove to be one expensive gamble that failed to pay off.

Another small factor that is to be considered is the presence of larger egos in the dressing room. Big name signings are bound to bring big egos along with them and this could affect their game as well as the rest of the team’s. This shouldn’t be much of a problem considering the team is after all under Sir Alex Ferguson.

The possible down side to the signing of Robin Van Persie is one that is clearly overlooked, but shouldn’t be ignored. With this being a realistic approach, any of these could happen. The Dutch seemed to have got along well at United with RvN and Van der Sar becoming stars of the highest quality in recent times. Van Persie has a point to prove to a lot of people- Arsenal fans, United fans, the manager and himself. It’s about time he gets started.


Pictures courtesy of: telegraph.co.uk, zimbio.com, championsleague.ca, metro.co.uk

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