Robin van Persie's decision not to sign a new contract has serious implications for the status of Arsenal as a club. The Guardian has reported that van Persie has declared that he won't agree to a new contract due to philosophical differences regarding Arsenal's plans for the future.
Van Persie becomes the latest in a long line of high-profile stars to demand a move away from Arsenal. This procession of marquee players clamouring for the exit door is changing the way Arsenal are viewed and their overall status as a top-tier club.
Aleksandr Hleb, Emmanuel Adebayor, Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri and now van Persie have all pushed for moves since the 2007/08 season. These players have sought higher wages and have often cited a more realistic chance of winning silverware as the motivation behind their respective decisions.
Whether statements of this kind are to be believed at face value, Arsenal's credibility as legitimate members of the game's elite is damaged every time a star player bolts for new pastures. As the damage becomes more frequent, the danger increases that Arsenal are seen as nothing more than a selling club.
The more key players depart because of a perceived lack of ambition, the more Arsenal begin to look like nothing more than a glorified production line for the likes of Manchester City and Barcelona.
That growing perception agitates a fanbase already afflicted with the anxiety and resentment borne out of seven trophy-less seasons. That level of collective unrest only increases the pressure on Arsenal's board to change their financial policies.
The fiscal prudence exemplified by manager Arsene Wenger is targeted as the root cause for the club's ills and the reason why so many key players choose the exit door. So on a day when BBC.co.uk reports Manchester United are turning to the New York Stock Exchange to solve crippling debt, Arsenal are criticised rather than applauded for their financial restraint.
Robin van Persie's departure, either this summer or the next, is one more hammer blow to Arsenal's youth-based, fiscally cautious approach to running a top club in the modern game.
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