£24m Van Persie Agrees Deal to Manchester United
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Let's say that again. Robin Van Persie, the current player of the season, Premier league top scorer (30) and Arsenal captain and talisman agrees a deal to move to rivals Manchester United. Wow.
It is rare in the English leagues that a team buys any player from a rival, let alone their star player. Beyond the shock of the move, let's look at the move in detail, starting with the player.
Van Persie has had the best 12-18 months of his injury-hit career, scoring goals for fun and being the catalyst for the majority of the good results the North London club have had over that time period. Of course, he has had help from the improving Theo Walcott and Alex Song but it has been the Dutchman who has stolen the headlines with man of the match performances seemingly every week.
Pundits and fans alike were in no doubt that Van Persie had the ability to do this, whether it be fragility, poor training practices or simple bad luck, injury has prevented him hitting the heights of last season earlier in his career.
Therefore it is difficult to know for sure if Van Persie has already peaked and is in decline or his feats are due to simply being fully fit for a complete season and there's plenty more to come. Aged 29 and turning 30 beginning of next season, how likely is it he will have seasons like his last in the future? Taking this into account, is he worth the money?
A deal totalling £24m has been accepted and agreed with Van Persie set to earn between a mammoth £200,000 and £235,000 per week for four years.
When the speculation first started about this deal, the money being banded about was topping out at £14m. For Arsene and his board of merry men to wrangle £24m for a player that no longer wants a part of future plans and is in the last year of his current contract shows great negotiation skills from those involved and should be applauded.
The deal finances a large part of the rebuilding that has already taken place in the form of Lukas Podolski, Oliver Giroud and Santi Cazorla. For Manchester United, they have overpaid for two reasons. To stave off the threat from Manchester City even with their relationship with Arsenal in tatters after the Samir Nasri deal, the interest was real and buying a player from a direct rival will always bump the price.
In this era a 30-goal-plus striker is worth much more than the £24m United are to pay, but does the price offset the fact he only had one year left on his contract?
Effect on Manchester United
Now, for the first time in a long while, the two top scorers in the league will be playing in the same team in Rooney and Van Persie. But will they actually play together as much as we think? Sir Alex Ferguson has stated that he likens his current strike force of Rooney, Van Persie, Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez to his treble winning team of '99 of Teddy Sheringham, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Andrew Cole and Dwight Yorke.
Since then only once has his forward line looked as dangerous in Rooney, Dimitar Berbatov, Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez, but he could not find the balance in rotation and Tevez left the following season. This time seems different, the egos are not as volatile and there are natural partnerships and a pecking order. This is if Rooney plays up front at all.
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As we saw last season (to some pundits' and fans' dismay) United's star man played in a much deeper role, akin to Messi's role for Barcelona, dropping into midfield play and being the main goal threat. The burden upon him was clear.
Unlike at Barcelona, the centre of United's midfield is more house of horrors than carousel at present. Rooney's talents looked to plug holes rather than enhance attacking options. To have a striker of the same calibre as himself will no doubt have a rejuvenating effect and allow Sir Alex to rest his star without the same apprehension of being at a major disadvantage in any given game. Wherever Rooney plays we can be sure Van Persie will not be far behind, to the side or up above him.
Effect on Arsenal
With Arsenal's most obvious goal threat gone, from where are the goals going to come? Thankfully, this season Arsene Wenger has had time to prepare and scout effectively to find replacements well in time for the opening weekend's action.
Bright sparks Oxlade-Chamberlain and Walcott will need to shoulder the burden of scoring goals and match winning performances of the departing number 10. Arshavin has been given this season to prove his worth. Bendtner must show Arsene, like Arshavin, that he is as good as he believes he is to stay a part of the squad.
Chamakh has been a major disappointment, even coming in as a free transfer last summer. If the new forwards start quickly and young pups Oxlade-Chamberlain and Walcott continue with their upward trajectory, then Arsenal may not miss their talisman as much as they might think.
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