Before his transfer was confirmed on Friday morning, our experts discussed what signing the 29-year-old would mean for the rest of the attacking talent at Old TraffordRobin van Persie is officially a Manchester United player, putting to rest months of speculation over his future.
But what does this mean for the other strikers? And where will new boy Shinji Kagawa fit in Sir Alex Ferguson’s side?
Carlo Garganese, Peter Staunton and Luke Matthews joined in the LIVE! Debate on Thursday as we looked ahead to what the Netherlands international’s signing holds in store...
Q: Based on the similarity of Van Persie and Wayne Rooney statistically, does this mean they will be rotated throughout the season?
CG: "Sir Alex Ferguson has a history of rotating his squad in order to keep his team fresh, and to ensure they finish strongly in the business end of the season, so there is no doubt that there will be games where one or both will be rested.
"However, you don't buy Van Persie to be Rooney's replacement or backup, so there is no doubt that Sir Alex will have a plan in mind to play both in the same team. Finding a formation to get the best out of both Rooney and Van Persie - as well as United's other attacking stars such as Shinji Kagawa, Nani, Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young - will not be easy."
LM: "The simple fact is that both Rooney and Van Persie need to be starting the majority of games for United – they’re simply too good to rotate. However, the big question will be which of the two will start in a more advanced role. Both have great technical ability and favor dropping deep to receive the ball and to help dictate play yet one will need to stay up top.
"Saying that, it would be naive to think that both players will be starting every game. Fergie has already proven that he's no slave to an ego and, with his reputation as 'King of the rotation policy' secured, I can't see both starting together in all the big away games for United."
Q: What will Van Persie’s signing mean for Shinji Kagawa? Where will he line up?
LM: "I really rate Kagawa but I think if you would have told Ferguson two months ago that he would be signing Van Persie, there is no way Kagawa would be at United now. I’m struggling to see how Rooney, Van Persie and Kagawa will line up together.
"A 4-3-2-1 formation could work but that would mean playing with three central midfielders – the weakest area in their squad. It would also mean dropping the likes of Young, Nani and Valencia which, let's be honest, is not going to happen.
"Don't get me wrong, I've watched a lot of Kagawa and he certainly has the ability to play for United but I feel that we might see a scenario where he’s shunted to the left wing and unable to dictate play and, if that happens, he'll be a flop as there simply isn't a tactic that will accommodate all three successfully into the same lineup."
PS: "The central, creative attacking hub is far too influential a position for Kagawa to have dominion over. He has proven to be a fine counterattacking player, with his twists and feints, as well as his foot speed with the ball. But at United, with his team dominating possession, he simply will not be fulfilling the same obligations as he did at Borussia Dortmund. That position in the team will go to either Rooney or Van Persie.
“I wouldn't expect Ferguson to hand him chief playmaking duties at United, certainly not in his first season."
Q: What about Danny Welbeck? He surely won't start ahead of RVP. Should he move on?
PS: "I feel more sorry for Welbeck than anyone else in all of this. I understand that when the opportunity came for Ferguson to sign Van Persie arose, he could not demur. But the signing of Van Persie betrays Welbeck in a way most unbecoming of the United manager. Through all his seasons at Manchester United, the one position in which Ferguson has failed to nurture quality from the youth ranks is center forward.
"In the last 12 months, Welbeck has proven himself to be, arguably, Ferguson's greatest striking product plucked from the United youth system. He has established himself as an England international, kept Dimitar Berbatov and Chicharito out of the team and looked to be the man to carry United's striking burden through the next decade. And just when it appeared that his time had come, Van Persie is signed."
LM: "I think there's still room for Welbeck but he will have to get used to being heavily rotated by Ferguson. Last season he made 40 appearances, more than Chicharito and Berbatov so I think it's fair to say that it's the other two who should be more concerned in regards to their role at the club, even if the Bulgarian is expected to move on before the end of the transfer window.
"We may even see a scenario where Van Persie and Welbeck line up together with Rooney in a more creative role behind the pair, but I can only send Fergie deploying such tactics in when the likes of Wigan turn up at Old Trafford for their annual 'let's roll over for United' routine."
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