Although he's stated he will not renew his contract, the Dutchman should stay and win trophies with the Gunners.Robin van Persie arrived at Arsenal’s training camp this week with a few more grey hairs and without a new contract. Of course, one could have something to do with the other.
The club is hoping to resolve Van Persie’s future before the Gunners begin their preseason tour in Malaysia this weekend. All the big clubs are hot for the Dutch striker, including Juventus, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Premier League rival Manchester City.
The fact that Van Persie is in camp and apparently in good spirits and good shape has Arsenal optimistic that the captain will re-consider his position, sign a contract extension and continue to call Emirates Stadium home. Van Persie, 28, is in the prime of his career and belongs at Arsenal where he led the Premier League with 30 goals last season.
If it is Van Persie’s wish to win trophies, why not do it with the club where he made a name for himself? He can’t possibly believe that winning a championship while riding shotgun with Messi would mean the same as winning one at Arsenal.
It’s not as if the north London side is that far from being a legitimate contender. Arsenal finished third in the EPL and its manager, Arsene Wenger, is one of the best in the business at adding young talent.
Van Persie has every right to be concerned with Arsenal losing both Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri last summer. But Wenger has always been a proactive manager. He is looking to sign 17-year-old French forward M’baye Niang, who is being courted by both Tottenham and Man City. Arsenal is also trying to sign Theo Walcott to a long-term deal.
Locking up Van Persie, however, is the crucial move for Arsenal. Nearly two weeks ago, Van Persie released a statement after meeting with Wenger and Ivan Gazidis and sounded resigned to leaving before his contract expires in 12 months.
"This was a meeting about the club's future strategy and their policy,” Van Persie said in the statement. “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 should move forward.
"I've thought long and hard about it, but I have decided not to extend my contract.”
Van Persie sounded sincere but don’t discount the fact that he could be a shrewd negotiator as well. Van Persie understands his value the team and could be looking for more money, more affection or both. I’ll go with the latter.
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Arsenal is built around the Van Persie the way it was once built around his good friend Thierry Henry. And yes, Henry left for Barcelona when he was 27 but not before becoming the Gunners all-time leading scorer with 228 goals while helping Arsenal to two league titles and three FA Cups. It wasn’t until Henry arrived in Spain before he raised a Champions League trophy.
He and Van Persie were teammates when Arsenal lost to Barcelona in the 2006 Champions League Final. Van Persie never stepped on the pitch that night and that loss still stings.
Stay at Arsenal and perhaps Van Persie will get that chance again. Winning one as Messi’s sidekick just won’t mean as much.