Wenger mugged-off as Van Persie refuses contract
With Richard Willcox
The day after Arsene Wenger said the club would do everything in its power to keep hold of Robin Van Persie, a statement by the player on his website announced that he will not sign an extension to the year left on his contract. Arsenal F.C. and its fans were desperately hoping that 28 year-old Van Persie, their leading goal-scorer and the top scorer in the Premiership last season, would agree terms on an extension.
The big question now is whether they club will keep him for that year and then let him walk on a free, or cash in on him now? Surely it has to be the latter? His statement confirmed that he had met with manager Arsene Wenger and chief executive Ivan Gazidis, but that they had disagreed on the way the club should move forward:
“I’ve thought long and hard about it, but I have decided not to extend my contract,” the Dutchman wrote on his personal website.
Not only would Van Persie be a huge loss to the club (assuming he moves on), it also sends a worrying signal to fans about the club’s level of ambition and available funds to meet them. Van Persie will follow similar high-profile exits by Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri, and Arsenal fans are bemoaning the loss of yet another of their best stars.
The Dutch international added that there would be further meetings once Gazidis returns from a two-week holiday in America and that he would provide updates “if and when there are more developments“.
Referring to his meeting – on 16 May – with Wenger and Gazidis, Van Persie said: “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.”
Clearly the club either doesn’t share his ambitions or have failed to convince him that they are capable of achieving them.
No doubt Gooners will continue to back a manager that hasn’t won a trophy in seven years and continues to stand-by while their top players move-on in order to win trophies. Can Giroud and Podolski compensate for the loss of Van Persie?
Once we know the answer to the question of whether the club will now sell him (and I can’t see any other outcome given his statement), the question will be – where is he going? Would he play for another Premiership club after eight years at the club, in which he scored 96 goals in 194 appearances. Man City could certainly test his resolve if wages are an issue and are of course the current Premier League Champions – my guess is Man City or Paris Saint-Germain.
Where do you think he’ll playing his football at the start of 2012/13 season?
Arsenal FC have since released the following statement on their website (19:17):
“ We have to respect Robin’s decision not to renew his contract. 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.”
What can we read into this? Very little at the moment – Arsenal will want to play their cards close to their chest to secure the best deal for him and acknowledging that he’s ‘free-to-leave’ won’t help. They have three options:
1) Sell him to another club while he still has a year left on his contract
2) Keep him for a year and let him ‘rot on the bench’
3) Keep him and try to persuade him to play his last year out
Remember, they only paid 2.75 million for him from Feyenoord, and so they don’t have to recoup any money, but to replace him they could really do with the funds.