Transfer silly season is here, and Arsenal Football Club finds itself yet again in an undesirable position.
The Gunners could be set to lose their most valuable player, and not for the first time in the past decade. The exits of Thierry Henry and Cesc Fabregas may be things of the past now, but Arsenal just continue struggling to keep hold of their top men.
It has only been a few weeks since Robin Van Persie announced his decision not to extend his current contract with Arsenal.
It is exactly this kind of stuff that the media is waiting to hear. It allows them to start churning out the transfer speculation stories at full throttle. The most ludicrous of suggestions are thrown up.
Well, that is what I thought when this particular story came out in the papers.
I was well aware of the fact that Roberto Mancini and Manchester City had been trying to lure the Dutchman for some time, but United's reported interest was news to me. And then came the words of Sir Alex Ferguson, who, rather regrettably, had to acknowledge United's pursuit of a man who was nothing short of brilliant last year.
Although it is still the early days of preseason, Arsenal fans are probably expecting this one will drag on quite like the Cesc Fabregas saga last summer.
RVP has reportedly refused to report for preseason action. Curiously, the club have reassigned the No. 10 shirt to the Dutchman, while leaving new recruit Lukas Podolski without a number. This led to speculation by goal.com that Arsenal plan to give the German Robin's shirt number once he has departed.
One can't possibly feel the Red Devils have the spending power of Man City or Paris Saint-Germain. Nonetheless, Manchester United is considered an extremely attractive proposition by nearly every player in the game.
This had me thinking: Should United go for it or not? The essential step one must take to answer this question and deliver a verdict would be to prepare a pros and cons list, as I see it.
- Few come better than Robin Van Persie right now. Yes, he didn't have a lot of joy at the European Championships, but that can't undo all the good work done over much longer a stretch of time. 30 Premier League goals last year, 37 in all, PFA and FWA Player of the Year 2011-12 and chased by City and Juventus, amongst others; RVP is hot property, and with reason.
- Van Persie is an accomplished forward at the peak of his powers right now. Renowned for his predatory instincts, he also assists regularly, involves his teammates in the game and is a skilled set-piece taker. RVP’s overall gameplay is good and he is fairly comfortable playing as lone forward.
- A big transfer to a club of United’s stature could just propel the man to new heights. It would arguably land him a better shot at silverware. For all you know, he could end up with an even better goals-to-games ratio. Trust me, that would be no mean feat.
- United could run short of strike force at some point in the season. With Dimitar Berbatov headed right out the exit door, Sir Alex could be tempted to bolster his ranks with an established star like Robin Van Persie.
- His arrival at Old Trafford will spark fresh competition for places, and this is important. Danny Welbeck will have to raise his game. Javier Hernandez will not be able to afford another lacklustre campaign. Meanwhile, Wayne Rooney, might actually thrive in a new system where Van Persie shares goal-scoring duties with him.
- Signing him will cost a mint. United will find it difficult to out-muscle rivals City to his signature. They aren’t capable of splashing the cash quite like the Sky Blues do. Also, how likely is it that Sir Alex will be prepared to spend a substantial sum of money on an injury-prone 29-year-old?
- Van Persie’s wage demands are also a potential hurdle. He would probably demand parity with the big earners at United, including Rooney. The club would not be ready to grant him a long and lucrative deal.
- United have three prolific strikers who feature fairly regularly. The acquisition of RVP could generate disharmony in the camp. Not everyone is going to play. Somebody is going to be left dissatisfied and embittered.
- RVP was the indispensable captain at Arsenal, but he won’t enjoy the same significance in Manchester. The chap has grown accustomed to being the Gunners' skipper and go-to man, but things will be significantly different if he is under Fergie's wing. He'd obviously have the chance to show he can be an important cog in the wheel, but he certainly won't have the same prominence he has had in North London. That could easily affect his performances.
- There are other areas which are in greater need of reinforcement. I can list at least two other positions United should look at strengthening first. They could really do with a midfield destroyer and a quality fullback presently. Moreover, Lucas Moura is on the Red Devils' radar, and a massive bid of £32million would really test Sau Paulo's resolve. Van Persie's purchase would signify a big investment, and would prevent Sir Alex from bagging a number of important targets for other positions.
As I see it, Man United are better off without the mighty RVP. The cons outweigh the pros in the overall balance.
Goalscoring was hardly United's chief problem in 2011-12. Rooney, Welbeck, Chicharito and Dimitav Berbatov as a team produced the goods last term. I doubt it will be any different even if the Bulgarian Berba departs. I can feel the words "Too many cooks spoil the broth" ringing in my head as I write.
If I were Sir Alex, I'd be scanning the market for a good holding midfielder like Yann M'Vila. A capable fullback like Leighton Baines would be needed to replace the fast-declining Patrice Evra. Let's face it, Robin Van Persie just isn't the need of the hour.
Cross town rivals Man City are also strong in attack, but they have the cash injection that United lack, so I would avoid swooping for RVP. What would you do if you were in the manager's shoes?