Could Arsene Wenger Be One More Big Name Loss Away from Quitting Arsenal?
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Most Arsenal fans of a certain age can remember a time when the club successfully managed to balance the books, while simultaneously meeting the team's need for success.
At this point in time, you would need to have been born no later than 1995 to fully appreciate the last time Arsenal won a trophy.
Back to the present, the unavoidable news around the Emirates over the last few days is that the loss of club captain Robin van Persie is almost as inevitable as Frank Schlek's B-sample coming back positive.
If you've been too engrossed in the Tour De France's doping scandals or the end of Linsanity in New York to notice, Robin van Persie is leaving Arsenal.
There's no way to put it gently, but it's something Arsenal fans have previous experience with.
They felt the same sense of despair when Samir Nasri and Cesc Fàbregas both left the club in the space of nine days in August 2011.
The club bounced back, mainly due to the goals of van Persie, to finish third in the league and comfortably in the automatic Champions League berths.
This time around, the void is bigger, the talent pool smaller, and the current PFA Player of The Year is on his way out the door.
What was once a European powerhouse of development and success, has now morphed into a feeder club for some of Europe's elite clubs.
This from a club that went undefeated in the most entertaining way ever seen in the Premier League in 2003/04 under Wenger's tenure.
No, I buy you out, you don't buy me out.
You have to blame the board and to a lesser extent the manager if you support Arsenal, but it doesn't change the direction the club is going.
Money has never been a bigger factor in the Premier League and with the UEFA Financial Fair Play looming overhead, clubs need to be frugal.
Arsenal have taken this to the extreme, both with their lack of heavy spending, player sales and the price charged for their season tickets for the Emirates.
They are now the most expensive club to watch in the Premier League, with their season ticket price an extortionate £1,995 at the highest end, compared to Manchester United at £950 and Manchester City at £745.
How close is Wenger to quitting Arsenal?
That's quite a sum in a time when consumers have very little to spend and the best you can hope for in a season is a Carling Cup loss or a win over Manchester City.
The imminent departure of van Persie is like the timid whimpering of a wounded animal that knows the game is up and concedes defeat.
The Dutch striker will have seen this, as did his former teammates before him when they chose to leave for a more ambitious club.
Arsène Wenger will cut a lonely and frustrated figure on the side-lines next year, but will continue to churn out the same excuses in defence of a board that have taken penny counting to an art-form.
Players before him have left a sinking ship and you have to wonder at what point the Frenchman will do the same.
He's been incredible for the club and with Pat Rice now retired, Wenger may soon say enough is enough and head for the money-lined pastures of a larger European club.
When van Persie goes, it will be a catalyst for the eventual departure of Wenger too and to quote Sir Alex Ferguson (from the New York Times):
I said it to the directors 15 years ago, maybe more than 15 years ago: You have to remember that the most important person at Manchester United is the manager.
The board should take heed of this at Arsenal.
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