Good riddance, RvP

Posted by David Hirshey

Twenty-four hours after Robin van Persie took the money and ran to Manchester United, I keep asking myself one question: Why doesn't it hurt more?

Why doesn't losing your best player and team captain to a despised rival and its smug, blowhard manager feel more like someone has backed over your puppy in the driveway? Maybe it's because if you're a masochistic Arsenal fan -- and I've never met any other kind -- you have plenty of practice with this sort of thing. Let’s face it, it's become something of an annual summer rite for Gooners -- along with wondering whether Sebastien Squillaci once again has threatened to post those photos of Arsene Wenger cavorting with circus animals.

Last year, it was not only our best player and captain who left (hasta la vista, Cesc) but also an odious French tart who will forever have a special place in Arsenal hell (hot enough for you, Samir?). But somehow I never really believed that when RvP (Ridiculously Valuable Player) finally showed his hand it would turn out to be as ugly as Nasri's grubby paws.

And yet, there he was back in early July unfurling his big middle finger to Arsenal fans, saying that after thinking "long and hard" he had decided not to extend his contract because he felt the club didn't share the same level of ambition to win trophies. (Unlike, say, his beloved Dutch national team.) It was the kind of meretricious and clichéd statement that would even insult the intelligence of a Spurs fan. And from the moment I read it, RvP (Royally Vain Putz) was dead to me. Adebayor, dead. Nasri, dead. Deader even than want-away legend Nicklas Bendtner, who I believe is still alive.

OK, I admit it -- van Persie broke my Gooner heart, ripped it out and stomped on it without miraculously injuring himself.

But that was more than six weeks ago, and I've had plenty of time to mourn his (sniff ...) remarkable 30-goal, nine-assist season. The other seven campaigns will be mourned only by the Arsenal medical team, which spent so much time nursing him through his various injuries that it's no wonder so many other players were crocked every week.

So Wednesday's news felt less like an unexpected death in the family than the obligatory task of choosing a coffin. I was disappointed to learn that they don't make them out of pound notes. But of course, RvP's move had nothing to do with money, just like his new teammate Wayne Rooney's flirtation last season with Manchester City was about joining a club that aspires to play at the highest level of the sport. The fact that Sir Alex doubled Wazza's weekly wages to keep his shaggy head at Old Trafford just shows that even the canniest of managers can be played.

Wenger, to his credit, refused to engage in that game, but he also didn't sit on his fine leather wallet as he did last summer until he was forced into some curious eleventh-hour buys. (I will go to my grave wondering what the Frenchman ever saw in the almighty Park Chu-Young beyond the shirt sales in South Korea.) This time, however, he fired off a couple early warning shots, signing two quality players in Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud, and a third, Santi Cazorla, who has legitimate world-class pedigree.

Now it's two days before the start of the new season and the dirty deal has been cemented: a reported 22.5 million pounds (plus a 1.5 million pounds if he wins a league title at Old Trafford) for Arsenal to stash in the sofa. And having written that sentence, all the Clorox in the world couldn't get the parties involved clean again. Not bad for a player who managed to play just 59 percent of the Gunners' league games in the seven seasons before last year.

At least now I can begin the season by dedicating my days to what I once did with dread: Gleefully, waiting for RvP's next ankle injury.

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