Manchester United Rumours: Why the Red Devils Shouldn't Sign Robin van Persie
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While the modern era has taught us that “breeding young” is a firm developmental policy at Old Trafford, Manchester United have also shown their penchant for buying players in their prime, not afraid to splash a buck or two should a star warrant it.
Following the revelation that he would not be signing a new contract at the Emirates Stadium (via his personal website), Robin van Persie looks set to depart Arsenal this summer and, according to Harry Harris of ESPN, the Red Devils are very interested in acquiring his services.
At the risk of upsetting a lot of people and fans of the club, this wouldn’t be the great deal that it appears to be on paper, and here’s why.
The “Class of 1992” is a fine example of why homegrown investment is essential to a club’s success.
Why, with the talents of ’92 graduates such as Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, David Beckham, Gary Neville, Nicky Butt and Phil Neville, Manchester United should have shaped a dynasty and certainly went on to do so.
That being said, that infamous group had help in attaining the success that they did and, for some, still are.
In the '90s, Sir Alex Ferguson took the initiative in signing the likes of Teddy Sheringham, Peter Schmeichel, Dwight Yorke and Denis Irwin after they had shown great talent at other clubs.
All of the aforementioned players have two things in common, the first being that they all boast Champions League winner medals from the 1998-99 season.
Is Robin van Persie needed by Manchester United
The second is that none were under the age of 24 when signing for the club.
Now, you may be thinking this point doesn’t do much in arguing against the signing of Robin van Persie, and you’d be right.
However, the most important aspect in this debate is evolution, and in the 13 years or so since these players were most heavily involved in Old Trafford matters, football has changed a hell of a lot.
Yorke is by far the most expensive of this batch and cost United a fee just above £12 million, which was a considerable sum in 1998.
He did have the advantage of being several years Van Persie’s younger at the time of his transfer and was needed in a much more vital position to Ferguson’s outfit at the time, bringing us onto our next topic: How badly do United need Robin van Persie?
With Shinji Kagawa now at Manchester United, the two-time Champions League winners are likely to deploy a shift in tactics.
Teams who choose to operate with a central attacking midfielder—Kagawa’s position—are notorious for featuring just one “out and out striker."
Jürgen Klopp shows this at Borussia Dortmund with Robert Lewandowski, Van Persie regularly plays ahead of a playmaker at Arsenal and, if United’s preseason is anything to go by, the Red Devils will use this tactic too.
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As a result, competition for attacking places—a race that is tense as things stand for United—is only getting tighter.
The English giants currently have Wayne Rooney, Javier Hernandez, Danny Welbeck, Federico Macheda, Bébé and Dimitar Berbatov nudging each other in the fight for a spot in the starting XI.
Now, while two, or perhaps even three, of those names may not be at Old Trafford come September, nothing is certain. Rather than splash the cash, United may choose to rely on players already on their books for the coming campaign.
While it’s arguable that none of these forwards, save for Wayne Rooney, have the same talent and potential for superstardom as Robin van Persie, too many cooks in the kitchen never makes for a good broth.
If the Dutchman were to arrive at Old Trafford, the club would be blocking the path of numerous young prospects simply to risk getting the same out of Van Persie that Arsene Wenger did at the Emirates last season.
I’m not a superstitious person, by nature but one motif it’s hard not to pay attention to in the world of football is that lightning almost never strikes twice.
The “almost” there points to several players on this planet capable of replicating sheer genius, two of whom in particular play for Real Madrid and Barcelona, respectively.
I’m sure you can guess who.
Someone with 37 goals and 15 assists in one season is the kind of player that every manager fantasises of having amongst his ranks in only his giddiest dreams.
However, while majestic and clinical in his finishing during 2011-12, last season, Robin van Persie beat his previous goal tally by a massive 15 goals.
Considering that the attacker is turning 29 in one week, how likely is it that RVP will ever see those kind of numbers again and at a club where he’s competing with Wayne Rooney, no less?
While £25 million isn’t the biggest sum in this industry anymore, it’s still huge in a summer transfer window where Financial Fair Play is set to come into play, but there’ll be more on that soon.
In eight seasons with Arsenal, RVP has hit over 20 goals in three. After that, his highest tally was 13, hardly the calibre of a world-class forward.
It’s all well and good to say that Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes have fought the formula, but the decline that goes hand in hand with age is a different matter for forwards.
For RVP to prove worth the outlay at his current age, he’d have to reproduce some of his best football and notch above the “magic mark” of 20.
I’m sure some will disagree, but for me, that money is better risked on a youngster or two who, while not having the same accolades as RVP, will have more time to make up for immediate mistakes and to learn from them.
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I previously mentioned how Financial Fair Play would affect Manchester United’s decision of making this transfer and because the Gunner is in the final year of his contract, the risks over price-tag aren’t actually that vast.
Available at a reduced fee, Manchester United’s financiers would have no problem stumping up the cash for RVP should they think it necessary, but his wages are a different matter.
According to Jeremy Wilson of the Telegraph, the Holland international is reportedly holding out for a salary equating to £190,000-a-week , a fee which would make Van Persie the highest paid player at Old Trafford.
Dimitar Berbatov was in almost as prolific form as RVP upon his 2008 arrival at Unitedl and while some will have liked to see the Bulgarian’s time at the club go differently, he has ultimately become a forgotten figure.
While it’s hard to envision now, United can’t afford to see Van Persie go down the same route. At the exorbitant wages he’s demanding, it just isn’t an economically viable risk.
What’s more, United would find it nigh on impossible to make their money back on the striker and run the risk of not seeing him for much of the campaign given his injury-riddled past.
In short, the North London veteran’s cons sorely outweigh his pros, no matter how rose-tinted your view may be.
I fear Robin van Persie, a sore thumb with Arsenal, would become just another healthy-looking appendage at Manchester United.
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