Robin Van Persie: Arsenal’s forgotten son


In a transfer window that has so far been jam packed with news of global starts moving from one big club to another, one transfer that has not caught the relative attention of the global media has been the transfer of Manchester United striker Robin Van Persie. This, most definitely comes as a surprise, not because the news of his transfer has been overshadowed by other big money transfers, but because Van Persie’s transfer in actual fact is a huge loss to the Premier league and a massive gain for the Turkish League. This article attempts at placing the importance of acknowledging his departure as an unarguable loss to the English game and how he must be remembered as a great Premier League striker, most of which has been down to his development and performance at Arsenal football club.

A lot has changed in the minds of Arsenal fans since 17th August 2012, when Arsenal’s then captain and leading scorer during the 2011-12 season, Robin Van Persie left the North London Club for Premier League rivals Manchester United.  It’s been 3 years and in that time, United have won 1 Premier title and the Gunners have won 4 trophies, 2 FA cups and 2 community Shields. The red devils in this time, seen one season out of Europe’s most prestigious tournament the Champion’s League, while Arsenal have continued their involvement for 18 seasons in a row.

Many fans all over the world blamed Arsene Wenger for this controversial transfer, while others  were disturbed and horrified that a player who was just a few months ago rendered ‘Arsenal by blood’ was moving to one of the club’s fiercest rivals. We all hated Robin Van Persie for it, I am certain some of us still do, don’t we? Many believe and rightly so that he won Manchester United the league that season. He lifted the trophy that he had so wanted to in the eight years he spent at Arsenal and that was all that he could possibly think of doing at that point.

I do admit that Robin Van Persie, isn’t a hot topic in football news at the moment and definitely not so in news concerning Arsenal. Yet, his transfer to Fenherbahce has confused me a great deal for 2 reasons essentially; one, I did not imagine for a second that he was done performing at the highest level and in the most competitive league in the world (I am convinced has a lot more to offer). Second, watching RVP for what he is good at and possibly one the best in the world, has always been a thrilling experience(except when he’d scored against Arsenal). While his transfer to Man United distressed me a great deal, I would like to argue that  his departure is definitely a big loss to the league and at this point, I can’t help but remember him for the player he has been all these years, especially at Arsenal football club.

In the eyes of several modern day pundits who have either played alongside him or watched him grow as a footballer, he is considered one the best talents the Premier League has seen. It can be said with some conviction that strikers of his quality do not come one’s way that often. His qualities as an athlete are nothing short of remarkable. A quick finisher, Van Persie is also pot shot maestro and an aerial ball killer(remember how he converted Alex Song’s goal against Chelsea?). Wenger was recently quoted in a pre-season conference saying that he is definitely a ‘loss to English football’ and ‘one the best I have managed’, and we all are aware that Wenger has produced several outstanding, world class footballers, so putting RVP in that bracket must make him special.

Crafty, gifted on the ball, and perhaps the best natural finishers Arsenal or the league have seen in years, Robin Van Persie left a void the Gunners have still not been able to fill.  He is possibly one of those few footballers who would leave such a mark and I am sure we as Arsenal fans were infuriated precisely because of this little fact. For years, Van Persie performed exceptionally. I cannot but help think of 2 goals at this point, one against Barcelona at home in the Champion’s League (2010-11 season) where Arsenal won 2-1 and Van Persie slid past the post an absolute rarity , one that only a few players in the word are capable of.

I remember watching that game at home and Robin Van Persie , in that game and several other games made me love Arsenal even more.  The other against Charlton Athletic in 2006, where he leaped into the 18 yard box and converted a lofted pass by Emmanuel Eboue’s in an eccentrically beautiful manner, leaping and instantaneously thumping the ball in with his left foot. God was that an adrenaline rush! It totally was, I can never forget it.

There is one obvious criticism of the Dutchman that often comes to mind, and that has had to do with his on field behaviour. Van Persie arrived, and for a few years developed under the watchful eye of Arsene Wenger as an aggressive, hot headed and impulsive young man. Wenger, defended him in these circumstances, perhaps for he had foreseen the dutchman’s qualities as a footballer eventually trumping his behaviour on and off the pitch, enabling him to become one of the best in the world. We could all agree that did become one of the best at what he does; score goals.

After his transfer to Fenerbahce, Robin Van Persie thanked Wenger wholeheartedly. We can presume that any player in whose life Wenger has been so deeply involved would do the same. However, it is quite clear then, that Arsenal played an important role in his life. More importantly he played an integral part in some of the team’s best displays.

His transfer to Manchester United has perhaps seen his legendary status being ripped apart. Several Arsenal fans still hate him immensely because he did not stay back in London, while others are happy in the way he was treated towards the end of last season at Manchester United. I would disagree with both these positions, for I think that it has been a while since his transfer and that his treatment at Manchester United for the kind of player he is was evidently unfair, in the way that he was not given an opportunity to recess, and come back to his best.

He is not mentioned in the same breath as Henry, neither is he remembered in the way Bergkamp was and Wilshere and Tomas Rosicky will be. Robin Van Persie, however was part of a consorted effort, directed at playing a beautiful game of football, and he surely, played his part.  To me, nothing can take away the thrill and joy of a time when RVP scored some magnificent goals for the club I support, and that undoubtedly, makes me an even bigger fan of the club. RVP is most certainly a loss to the premier league, and we must fondly remember his time with our club, and bypass, at this juncture,  the summer transfer window of 2012.

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