Arsenal FC: Robin Van Persie Set to Leave

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 05:  Robin van Persie of Arsenal celebrates scoring their third goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Norwich City at the Emirates Stadium on May 5, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
Bryn Lennon/Getty Images
Jamrock RoverSenior Analyst IJuly 4, 2012

The news Arsenal fans were dreading came to pass today when Robin van Persie announced on his own website that he will not be renewing his contract with the club. With only a year left on his current deal, it means he will be on his way to a free transfer next summer. I'm not so sure Arsenal will want to keep him for that year though, and I would be very surprised if they didn't sell him before the transfer window closes.

RVP is the current captain of Arsenal, but his desire to leave must mean the club will strip him of the honour. The captain's armband has become a poisoned chalice, and RVP joins a long list of captains who have decided to leave. He is the current star player at the club, but Arsenal have lost better players in the past and survived.

Last summer saw the departure of former captain Cesc Fabregas, and I expect the current captain to go the same way. If RVP wants to see out his contract, his commitment to the club cannot be guaranteed no matter what he says to the contrary.

He claims to be an Arsenal fan, but he fails to understand what a true fan really is. A fan supports his club no matter what, and never turns his back on his club. No matter what reason RVP gives for leaving, he would want to say if he was a real fan.

RVP claims he disagrees with the club in the way it should move forward, and as a result he has decided not to renew his contract. He also claims that financial terms are not his priority, and he never discussed them with the club. That's all very noble of him, but if he has decided he doesn't agree with the path the club is taking, why has he not asked for a transfer?

If financial terms are not important to him, surely he would be happy to forgo any large signing-on fee he would get with his free transfer next summer. If he was to ask for a transfer, he would lose his cut of any transfer fee if the club decided to sell him this summer too. I'm sure the financial concerns are not the most important factor for him, but there is no doubt they are a factor. 

In my opinion the best thing Arsenal can do is put him up for sale immediately and sell him to the highest bidder. The money can be used to bring in players who want to play for the club and will work to make the team a better one. I cannot see any scenario that would allow RVP to remain at the club in the coming season unless he reverses his decision.

Arsenal stuck by RVP throughout many of his injury-plagued seasons and early in his career when he had personal problems. He has managed to stay fit for the last 18 months, and he has scored an awful lot of goals in that time too. There is absolutely no guarantee that his injury-free spell will last, and he could find himself suffering from some of his old frustrations again.

The best thing for Arsenal to do is to move on as quickly as possible and appoint a new captain. The captaincy was given to RVP and Cesc as an incentive to keep them at the club, but it didn't work in the end. This time the captaincy has to be given to a player who will act as a leader on the pitch.

I don't buy into the theory that teams can have a team full of captains, and the right player as a captain can have a huge influence on a team. If Arsene Wenger can find somebody to do half the job Tony Adams did in that role, he will have found the right man to lead his team. 

There are a few candidates for the role with Thomas Vermaelen, Bacary Sagna, Mikael Arteta, Tomas Rosicky and Laurent Koscielny, all in with a shout. I'm not so sure which of them I would like to see get the armband, but Wenger has to get the call right this time. It cannot be given to a player as an incentive to keep him at the club, and for no other reason.

There is still a long way to go in the transfer window, and a lot of hard work for Wenger and Ivan Gazidis. They have to work as hard as they can to get the right players into the club to improve on the performances of last season. Whether RVP is a part of that or not, the club will go on.

In an ideal world, RVP would be sold and Arsenal would use the money to bring in the players who would help them win a Premier League title or Champions League trophy. It would be so sweet to see RVP's reaction to Arsenal being successful without him, but it's probably a far-fetched dream on my part. 

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.

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