The news every Arsenal fan did NOT want to hear appears to be official: Robin Van Persie WILL NOT extend his contract with the Gunners.
In a carefully worded statement, on his own website, robinvanpersie.com—which almost immediately went down due to the obvious recent surge in traffic—the player broke the devastating news to his legions of fans across the globe.
While most of it is largely pointless rhetoric, there are a couple of passages which stand out for me.
Firstly, while he's not stated that he's leaving—he still has a year left on his current deal—it is fairly obvious that he now must. It seems like he has taken the content and timing of this announcement into his own hands:
I have kept quiet all this time out of respect and loyalty for the club and as agreed with Mr. Gazidis and Mr. Wenger, but since there is so much speculation in the media, I think it is fair for you guys to know what’s really going on at the moment.
This is something that Arsene Wenger will definitely not accept. If he's violated a gentleman's agreement with Wenger, there is no doubt in my mind that Van Persie will be sold. And soon. He then adds:
I personally have had a great season but my goal has been to win trophies with the team and to bring the club back to its glory days. Out of my huge respect for Mr. Wenger, the players and the fans I don’t want to go into any details, but unfortunately in this meeting it has again become clear to me that we in many aspects disagree on the way Arsenal FC should move forward.
This, I'm sorry to say, is just not acceptable, and is a sign of the times we live in with football players becoming much bigger than their clubs, and in some cases the sport itself.
Van Persie had a truly sensational last 18 months, and I'm sure all of us Gooners owe him big time. But honestly, who is he to "disagree on the way Arsenal FC should move forward?" When I last checked, he was club captain. Was there a mid-term promotion to Chief Strategic Officer? Preposterous!
Unless this is the mother of all website hacking jobs—I'm really clutching at straws, aren't I?— it is clear that RVP must be sold immediately. I'd rather he went outside the Premier League, not because I'm worried he'll make Manchester City stronger, but so that he can be out of sight and out of mind to the greatest extent possible.
There's been so much more noise about Samir Nasri than about Cesc Fabregas, Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira. I'd rather not have to read about him every day.
Always Look on the Bright Side of Life
Yes, there is a silver lining to this ginormous dark cloud: This announcement, however devastating, has been made nice and early. Arsenal have six weeks to sell RVP and bed in a replacement before the season starts. Much better than last year, when we lost Nasri and Fabregas after the season had started.
Well done, Arsene and Ivan. And well done for running the club as it needs to be, and not as one prima donna wants it to be.
In conclusion, I will say that it's easy for us fans to make RVP an instant pantomime villain. But honestly, we have no idea of what goes on behind closed doors. Let's hold on to the abuse for the moment. Let's hear both sides of the story.
And if Van Persie is being a mercenary like Nasri, he isn't worth our abuse anyway. Let's try and emulate the dignity and class that our great club always displays.
I'm big on lyrics, and none could be more appropriate right about now than this song by The Doors:
This is the end, beautiful friend; this is the end, my only friend, the end
Of our elaborate plans, the end; of everything that stands, the end
No safety or surprise, the end; I'll never look into your eyes, again.
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