Robin van Persie: What's Next for Arsenal Football Club?

James WalkerAnalyst IJuly 4, 2012

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 16:  Robin van Persie of Arsenal is tackled by Emmerson Boyce of Wigan during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Wigan Athletic at Emirates Stadium on April 16, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Robin van Persie has confirmed on his official website that he will not sign an extension when his contract expires at the end of the season.

The 28-year-old, who still has a year remaining on his current deal, met with Arsene Wenger and Ivan Gazidis on May 16, but it is only now that his decision has been made public.

"I've thought long and hard about it, but I have decided not to extend my contract," the Dutchman wrote.

But what does it mean for Arsenal?

It is not yet clear whether the Dutch international will see out the remainder of his contract, but the blow to the football club has already been struck.

Arsenal are trying to develop after several seasons of underachievement. Although the Gunners finished third in the Premier League last season, the club is indebted to Van Persie for his imperious scoring record.

The club’s best players always seem to want to move on. Samir Nasri, Gael Clichy and Cesc Fabregas have already turned their backs on Arsene Wenger’s vision, and Van Persie’s intent to leave is the latest in a long-running exodus of star names.

There is, however, reason for optimism.

Deadline day on last season’s transfer window was the product of clueless desperation. The club were forced to react to the sale of Nasri and Fabregas, but the arrivals of Per Mertesacker, Andre Santos and Mikel Arteta were no more than damage limitation.

This season, however, the club have adopted a more proactive approach in their transfer policy.

Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski have already been announced as the new spearhead to the Gunner’s strike force. Inexperienced though they may be in the Premier League, both players possess the attributes to flourish in England.

They do not have the same quality as Van Persie, but they both have their best days ahead of them, and have arrived for relatively cheap sums.

If Arsenal were to sell Robin van Persie, it is likely they will be able to recoup the money they have invested on their new strike force, and still make a profit that can be invested in other areas of the squad.

Both players are also less injury prone than the 28-year-old striker. Injury has been a perennial hindrance to Van Persie, and indeed, last season was his first truly great one with the club.

Although it seems the problems are behind him, it is a record that will always be at the back of Wenger’s mind.

Although it is not clear whether Arsenal will sell their star asset or not, the rumour mill suggests they will be able to receive a tidy sum for the striker who arrived from Feyenoord for £2.75 million in 2004.

The Metro claims that Wenger will hang on to Van Persie "at all costs," but the rumour mill has heavily linked him with a plethora of Europe’s leading clubs.

Two days after Van Persie met with Gazidis and Wenger, the Guardian reported that Manchester City were confident that they were in pole position to sign the striker.

Since then, Mancini’s interest in the Dutchman seems to have cooled. According to the Daily Mail, the Manchester City boss said: "We have four strikers and we will start the preseason in five days, it's unlikely there will be major changes in such a short time."

Alongside Manchester City, Serie A champions Juventus have been the leading candidates for Van Persie’s signature.

The Mirror has recently reported that the Old Lady of Italy had an £8 million bid rejected by the club.

Despite an early refusal from Arsene Wenger, both prospective clubs have reasons to be buoyed.

The Daily Mail reports Robin van Persie saying: “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.”

Parallels can be drawn with the Samir Nasri affair last season. Like Van Persie, Nasri opted not to sign an extension with the club, and like Van Persie, the French international doubted the club’s ability to win medals.

Nasri was eventually sold to Manchester City for £24 million. Could a similar situation occur with Van Persie?