Arsenal fear the worst as Robin van Persie refuses to plan long-term future until after Euro 2012
ROBIN van Persie, the Arsenal captain, has made it clear that he is not willing to sign a new contract in the immediate future, sparking fears that the club are facing yet another damaging summer transfer saga.
Arsenal had hoped to resolve Van Persie’s future before Euro 2012, and potentially even this week, but a meeting on Wednesday involving manager Arsène Wenger and chief executive Ivan Gazidis provided only limited encouragement.
It is understood that Van Persie, who yesterday joined up with the Holland squad for Euro 2012, made it known that he was not currently prepared to commit his long-term future to the club.
Manchester City and Juventus are both closely monitoring the situation and there is now a mounting sense that Van Persie is waiting to see what options emerge and how the transfer window unfolds. Juventus are prepared to at least match Arsenal’s offer of around £130,000 a week but Manchester City could pay well in excess of £200,000 a week.
Van Persie has not yet definitely said that he wants to leave but, with only one year left on his contract, is in a strong position. Arsenal have indicated that they would be prepared to hold Van Persie to his contract for one more season, even if that meant losing him for nothing next year.
However, they made the same threat last year to Samir Nasri before eventually accepting a £24 million offer from City after the season had already started.
There is now a private acceptance at Arsenal that the Van Persie situation is unlikely to be swiftly resolved, with Patrick Vieira, their former captain, yesterday questioning his old club’s strategy.
“I think losing Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas last year was a big shock for Arsenal,” Vieira said. “I think if they lose Robin van Persie this year it will be a drama. It is a big risk.
“They lost Cesc and Samir but you knew that Robin was staying behind. If they lose Robin, who is behind?
“From Arsenal’s point of view, I think these are the things they should close a long time ago but Arsenal don’t need me to tell them that. “Of course it is going to be difficult to keep or to convince Robin.”
Vieira’s frank assessment has particular resonance given that he now works for Manchester City as the club’s football development executive. Vieira made no attempt to deny City’s admiration but he does also envisage interest from across Europe.
“I’m not the right person to tell him what he should do but, knowing Robin, I don’t think it will only be City who would like this kind of player,” Vieira said. “I don’t think you have so many good talents like Robin van Persie who have just one year left on his contract. I think there will be a lot of teams who will want a player like Robin.”
Vieira spent several years sharing a dressing-room with Van Persie at Arsenal and he is adamant that his former team-mate will be driven by sporting rather than financial factors.
“Robin wants to win trophies,” Vieira said. “Arsenal have to show him he can do it with Arsenal. The best way for them to get him to sign a contract is to bring players to the club who can show him that the club are in the same line as him.
“It’s really important because we know how Robin loves Arsenal. That’s not the question, the question is how Arsène Wenger will convince Robin they can win trophies.
“With Samir and Cesc you can say, ‘OK, those two are gone’, but behind you know that there is Jack Wilshere and Van Persie still at the club.
“But if Robin comes to leave, that means next year it may be Theo Walcott, next year’s going to be Wilshere.
“It’s going to be difficult for Arsenal to keep the top players. On the other side, if they keep Robin they’re going to send a positive message to all the clubs and to all the people around and I think it’s really important to keep him. The first step is to keep all the quality players and the talent. There’s still a year so that means he’s not gone yet.”
Summer sagas: How Arsenal have lost out in the long-run
Patrick Vieira (2005)
Arsenal’s midfield general ended a nine-year spell at the club when he signed for Juventus in a £13.75m transfer in 2005. He came close to leaving the Gunners in a £23m deal with Real Madrid the previous summer having reportedly been unsettled by a lack of European success. Rumours had linked him with the Spanish giants since 2002. A change of heart saw him remain at Arsenal for one further season before being taken to Italy by Fabio Capello.
José Antonio Reyes (2006)
Spain starlet Reyes waged a long campaign for a move to Madrid which culminated in a swap deal with Real Madrid early in the 2006-07 season. Reyes joined Arsenal from Sevilla in 2004 and extended his contract until 2011 a year later. However, frustrated by the lack of first team football, he flirted with Real from the spring of 2005 telling interviewers that he would “love” to play at the club. Despite his contract extension and repeated warnings to the Spanish side by Arsène Wenger, he was swapped for Julio Bapista a year later.
Cesc Fabregas (2011)
Perhaps the longest running of all Arsenal’s transfer sagas saw their captain leave for Barcelona in a £35m deal. Rumours about a possible deal had been circulating since 2009. Although a €35m bid was rejected in June 2010 and the player publicly committed himself to the club in August that year, speculation continued into the following summer following another barren year for Arsenal. Fabregas eventually signed a five-year deal at Barcelona.
Gaël Clichy (2011)
The last remaining member of the ‘Invincibles’ side left for Manchester City after becoming frustrated following six years without a trophy. Premiership rivals Liverpool and Italian side Roma had been linked to the left-back as his contract negotiations with the club broke down last summer.
Samir Nasri (2011)
Rumours abounded that the France midfielder threatened to leave Arsenal on a free the following summer during a fractious transfer to Manchester City last summer. The move to the Emirates eventually came after he had declined a £115,000 a week contract extension in north London. When he did complete his £24m move, he took a swipe at Arsenal supporters claiming that they lacked passion.
Robin van Persie (2012?)
The Premier League’s top goalscorer has been the subject of serious interest by leading sides at home and abroad. Intense speculation linked the striker with a move last summer after he was reportedly disappointed by the exit of Fabregas and the failure of Wenger to make big-name signings in the close season. Despite reports that Manchester City came close to making a bid in the mid-season transfer window, Juventus appear to now be the front-runners should he decide to move in pursuit of silverware this summer.