The past 12 months have been dream-like for Robin van Persie. For so long the 28-year-old Dutchman had been regarded as a rather injury-prone talent, but after his recent goalscoring feats with club side Arsenal, RvP has firmly placed himself in the upper echelon of strikers that world football has to offer.
Van Persie has been central to the Dutch side since the Oranje's Euro 2008 campaign, when he supported Ruud van Nistelrooy from the left flank. However, since the former Manchester United forward's international career came to an end, van Persie has graduated to become the first-choice striker in his own right and led the line for the Netherlands at the FIFA World Cup in 2010, when the side reached the final before losing to Spain.
Since the World Cup, van Persie's scoring at club level has soared to nearly a goal-per-game pace. The transformation to become one of the world's most complete center forwards is complete and now, to Arsenal fans’ dismay, van Persie is in the sights of Europe's giants as his club contract nears its end. Technically, the former Feyenoord man has always been capable of the sublime, but now he’s matching those skills with an intelligence and consistency that had not always been visible in previous years.
With van Persie, it’s all about his majestic left foot, which he has shown is capable of finding the back of the net from pretty much anywhere within 30 yards of goal. While some players may be driven onto their weaker foot, van Persie's intelligent movement when dropping deep into midfield means it is nigh-on impossible for defenders to predict when the Dutchman is going to appear in the box. When he does, it is then almost as difficult to prevent him moving the ball onto his prolific left peg.
With four goals against San Marino in qualifying in September 2011, van Persie moved onto 25 goals for Netherlands and into the top 10 on the all-time international goalscorers list for his country. With a brilliant season for his club under his belt, few would bet against the striker adding a few more to his tally this summer.
Expert's take: Both technically gifted and capable of the poetic. If a goal for the ages is scored at Euro 2012, odds are it will be struck by his left foot. -- Roger Bennett
Stats That Matter:
• 48 Premier League goals over the past two seasons, 10 more than any other player
• 132 goals for Arsenal, eighth-most in club history
• Arsenal was 19-3-3 in matches when Van Persie scored last season (all competitions)
• Scored six goals in six Euro 2012 qualifying matches
• Only goal at 2010 FIFA World Cup was against Cameroon in the Netherlands’ final group game