Expected, but still horribly painful

Posted by Sam Limbert

As soon as Robin van Persie released his seemingly ill-judged statement at the start of the summer, it felt like he'd left the club. However, now it's actually happened (pending a medical), I've found myself more annoyed about it than I thought I would be. I'm not angry that van Persie has left; I'm angry that he's gone to Manchester United.

There are various ways to look at this transfer. I keep flicking between two. On the positive side, we've sold a striker who has only had one fully fit season in eight, and only had one year left on his contract, for nearly £24 million. On the flip side, we've just sold our captain, top goal scorer and double footballer of the year to the team that finished just one place above us in the league last season.

As I said in my last post, Arsenal are not in a disastrous position because of Robin van Persie's departure. We've already made three excellent signings this summer, so we're not faced with going into the season with Marouane Chamakh and Ju-Young Park as our only strikers. We've also got the saga ended with two weeks to go before the transfer window shuts, giving us plenty of time to sign reinforcements. If van Persie was set on leaving, at least it's done and we've wrung as much money out of Manchester United as we can for a player of his age, his contract situation and with his injury record.

I can't help but feel there's a sense of betrayal on van Persie's part towards Arsene Wenger. Going back to van Persie's initial statement about not signing the new contract, he said he disagreed on how the club should move forward. Maybe he should have a gentle reminder that if it wasn't for Arsene Wenger's way of managing a football club, van Persie wouldn't have been given the chances he had as a youngster, and wouldn't have been given the chances he had after his long injuries. Arsenal and Arsene Wenger have invested a lot of time and effort into the career of Robin van Persie, and after one great season and a half, he's deserting the club that made him the player he is. It's painful and nasty to see as an Arsenal fan, but it's a worrying trait of modern football at the highest level.

My inclination is to place the majority of the blame for the move towards van Persie himself. However, people are right to question why those in the positions of power at Arsenal have let another fantastic player slip away without winning anything. Financially, we know we're not on the same level as others, and until we win a trophy, I fear the trend will continue. Could Wenger, Gazidis and the rest be doing more to keep these players each summer? Possibly. Although player power has become so massive in the modern game that there's only so much they can do to stop them from moving on. It seems to me that some players can't take responsibility for not winning something at a club when they're the ones out there on the pitch, not the manager. Sometimes you need to look at yourself first.

While I think player power is too strong in the modern game, if someone does want to move, ultimately it would be detrimental for the club to keep him. Yes, we want to see the best players at Arsenal. However, the paying fans mainly want to see players who really want to be playing for the club. It would have been great to have another year of Robin van Persie, but we couldn't have been sure that his head and heart would have been in the right place. It goes for any player -- if they don't want to be representing Arsenal, there are plenty of others who would like to do so.

The transfer is made worse by fans having a perception of Robin van Persie as being one of the good guys. He's made plenty of statements during his career saying how much he loved Arsenal and the "Arsenal way". If he wanted to move for a new challenge abroad, it would still have been tough to take, but we'd have accepted it. However, joining a team that most Arsenal fans would consider to be an arch-rival makes the sense of disappointment and anger among fans a lot stronger.

Robin van Persie's legacy at Arsenal will virtually be written off by most fans as he'll now be grouped with the likes of Ashley Cole, Emmanuel Adebayor and Samir Nasri. On the last day of last season, he said that whatever happens this summer, he'll always be a Gooner. Sorry Robin, joining Manchester United renders that statement completely false. Ultimately, our rivalry with Manchester United will be spiced up once again, and we know all too well that Robin van Persie is one innocuous fall away from six months on the side lines. We're still in a decent position going into the season, and Wenger does have time to reinvest the money in players who actually want to wear the cannon on their chest. Hopefully the squad will be galvanised to prove Robin van Persie that he was wrong, and win the trophy to stop the worrying cycle of summer sales.

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