Ever since Robin Van Persie announced his decision not to sign a new contract with Arsenal in July, various suitors were lurking for the Dutchman’s signature. Manager Arsene Wenger had a daunting task ahead of him. He was on the verge of making a key-decision. What do you do with a player who scored 37 goals in all competitions the previous season? (30 of which came in the league itself).
Wenger had the option of keeping Van Persie for another year at the Emirates, hoping that the Netherlands-international would have a change-of-mind and stay put. But Wenger could see the discontent in the player’s eyes. For someone who has been at the club for more than eight years, an FA Cup winner’s medal and a charity Community shield was far from convincing. No offence, Arsenal is a great club with an illustrious history, which saw the likes of Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp and many more bring success at Highbury and then the Emirates. But Van Persie had his heart set on moving to a new club, seeking a new challenge.
Reigning Italian champions Juventus, English champions Manchester City backed by their ‘petro-pounds’ and cross-town rivals Manchester United were all gunning for the Gunners’ skipper. Speculation grew over a move to Old Trafford after Sir Alex Ferguson stayed behind in London despite a pre-season game. Astonishingly, United agreed terms with Arsenal for Van Persie’s transfer on our Independence Day. Within a couple of days Van Persie completed a medical, agreed personal terms and signed a four-year contract. The world of football was buzzing with frantic headlines. Football pundits laid out their analysis on whether Sir Alex had played his cards right this time out.
Why bring in a 29-year old striker who has had most parts of his career blighted with injuries? And on top of that a player who might have been available for a free-transfer come next year.
Ferguson has bought in Van Persie not as an investment for the future. He has been brought in to be prolific. To wrestle back the Premier League title United lost to City on mere goal-difference. And Van Persie has a proven track record.
With a gifted-left foot, he is one of the most deadly finishers in the game. He possesses a magnificent volley, is versatile and also a set-piece specialist.
To be honest, Van Persie has already justified his £24 million price-tag. He has already banged in 4 goals in 3 appearances, including a hattrick in a 3-2 comeback win against the Saints. One has to say that Ferguson has finally landed the ‘big-name signing’ United lacked ever since Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure in 2009. Also, it was a pleasant yet defiant move to hand ‘the Flying Dutchman’ the #20 jersey, that was made famous by a certain ‘baby-faced assassin’ — Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Van Persie is one of Ferguson’s marquee signings in a long, long time.