Not a few—Gooners and neutrals alike—have noted the fact that, in choosing to leave Arsenal, Robin van Persie is despising the opportunity to immortalize himself at Arsenal. Someone has said he'll only be remembered as a brittle-bone player who gave Arsenal just one top season out of eight.
Defenders of the player and those who delight in needling Arsenal insist that, if it is a mere season of top quality that the Dutchman has given Arsenal, then what a season it was.
They say Van Persie single-handedly carried Arsenal to the finish line in last season's campaign. Without him, they continue, Arsenal, even now, would be cooling their heels in the chthonic depths of Europa League.
I must say, I've always been dubious of the one-man team claim. There's no such thing. How many goals, of the bucket-load Van Persie scored last season, were made by him? A great many were tap-ins and Alex Song produced sublime assists, 90 percent of which were to Van Persie.
This isn't to deny the importance of the player nor is it to minimize it. Had he possessed no killer instincts, a number of the assists would have meant nothing. So he is an excellent player and he did help Arsenal, but that doesn't constitute a one-man team. Team and one-man make an oxymoron.
But let's leave that aside.
He doesn't like the shirt anymore. Getty Images.
What I can't help but wonder is why Van Persie still wants to leave Arsenal.
Didn't he say, in that infamous internet post of his, that the reason for not desiring to sign with Arsenal is the club's current lack of ambition, supposedly in regard to trophies, which has stemmed from the dearth of quality signings?
And if that were true (not that I think it is or that many other Gooners, who reacted with great incredulity to Van Persie's claim, think so since Arsenal already had signed two quality players at the time), what is he still doing wanting to leave in the face of the progress Arsenal have made on the "ambition" front since his statement?
I am referring to the apparent signing of Santi Cazorla, which, although yet to be officially confirmed by the club, seems done and dusted. Is his persistence with this desire to leave still an indictment of the quality of these signings?
Didn't, for example, his statement condemn, not too subtly, Arsenal's two acquisitions at the time? Was he not implying by his statement that neither Olivier Giroud nor Lukas Podolski was up to the standard of his "ambition?" Are we to take it, then, that the combined trio still isn't up to his imagined standard?
If, indeed, his refusal to sign a new contract isn't about the smaller sum of money Arsenal are able to offer him than what he'd earned from either of his reported three suitors—Manchester United, Manchester City, Juventus—and really about the demonstration of ambition to do better than the club has done in the last seven years, wouldn't one think that what Arsenal have done so far—in the decisive signings of Giroud and Podolski and now apparently Cazorla—would be enough to make Robin van Persie rethink his stance on renewing his contract?
The No. 20 will come to the place the No. 11 once shun and despised. Getty Images.
The adamant desire to leave, methinks, cannot be justified by the reason given for it. Arsenal deserve better, insofar as Van Persie maintains his ambition and direction-the-club-is-being-run story.
Unless, of course, what he means by the direction-the-club-is-being-run is a euphemism for something else, something no one has deciphered yet, or if they have, have felt constrained to keep to themselves.
The curious case here, one must say, is that Van Persie still apparently wants to leave, even though many would say Arsenal already have demonstrated ambition enough. Are they not, at this moment, topping the transfer charts among the top four clubs?
Or does he mean to say that he considers himself way above the level of everyone in Arsenal's squad, including the new signings? If so, what arrogance, and I say this as one who admires and still loves this player, a player for whom I'll continue to wish well.