Robin Van Persie Transfer Saga: Finding the Truth Amongst the Fiction
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary journalism is defined as writing characterized by a direct presentation of facts or description of events without an attempt at interpretation.
The reason I checked the true meaning of journalism is because there seems to be very little of it in connection with this summer's biggest football soap opera. The ongoing saga of where Robin van Persie will be playing as of September 1st continues to rage non-stop. The only thing that is certain is that the majority of stories covering the subject appear to lack facts and be based more on interpretation.
The one true fact at the center of it all was the announcement that van Persie would not be signing a new contract with Arsenal. The statement was published on van Persie's own personal website, but even that has been questioned. Speculation still exists that the "update" was actually released by van Persie's agent Kees Vos on behalf of his client.
Outside of this announcement the reporting has been comical at best. Here's a look at some of the best speculative headlines
March 10, 2012: Manchester City Strike Agreement for Arsenal’s Robin Van Persie
"Manchester City Strike Agreement for Arsenal's Robin van Persie"
This one appeared way back in March in The National based in the United Arab Emirates. Of course this just happens to be the country where Manchester City's owner, Sheikh Mansour lives and is a member of the ruling family of Abu Dhabi.
This story is attributed to "sources" and claims both clubs have accepted a provisional deal worth £10.9 million a year.
May 22, 2012: Why the Arsenal Vibe Is That RvP Will Stay a Gunner
"Why the Arsenal Vibe is That RvP Will Stay a Gunner"
The transfer saga of the summer takes another twist...
This Mirror headline must have put a smile on the face of many Arsenal fans. Upon reading the article, however, there is not one attributable quote or fact. The entire article is pure speculation based on a “vibe”.
June 16, 2012: Dutch Auction: Arsenal Finally Admit They Will Sell Van Persie
"Dutch Auction: Arsenal Finally Admit They Will Sell Robin van Persie...For £30 Million"
The Mirror’s Steve Stammers goes from reporting van Persie will stay, to van Persie will be sold. The article states that Arsenal chairman Peter Hilll-Wood admitted that the club could not compete with some of the bigger spending clubs, but there is not one actual quote to be found. The story mentions that van Persie is being tracked by Manchester City, Juventus and Paris St. Germain.
June 7, 2012: Now Barca ‘n PSG Join RVP Chase
"Now Barca ‘N PSG Join RVP Chase"
With speculation heating up over whether van Persie will join Juventus, Manchester City or Manchester United The Sun comes up with two additional suitors. Without any attribution, the article states that Barcelona hope van Persie’s friendship with Cesc Fabregas will help bring him to Spain. It then states that money is not a factor for PSG.
The only actual quote in this entire article is from former Arsenal defender Kolo Toure singing the praises of Manchester City for van Persie. Interestingly enough, Toure has since been told he is free to leave and basically unwanted by the free-spending City.
July 11, 2012: Fergie Can Drive a Van
"Fergie Can Drive a Van"
The Sun correctly reports that Alex Ferguson would be in London for the Labour Party Sports Dinner at the Emirates Stadium. Then it twists this fact to seem as if Ferguson was in London in pursuit of van Persie. Manchester United is indeed interested in van Persie but this article is totally misleading and is completely based on speculation.
July 13, 2012: EXCLUSIVE: Arsenal Hopeful Van Persie Will Do 'a Rooney' and Stay
"EXCLUSIVE: Arsenal Hopeful Van Persie Will Do 'a Rooney' and Stay"
The Daily Mail attributes its "exclusive" to an unnamed "well-placed Arsenal source". The source reveals that the club are "very hopeful" that van Persie will sign a new contract with the club. It goes on to say the hire ups at Arsenal believe van Persie's published statement was an attempt by his agent to get him a better deal. It would be nice to know if this source is real or just some random guy that works in the ticket office at the stadium.
July 15, 2012: Robin Van Persie Set for Manchester Move
" Robin Van Persie Set For Manchester Move"
The Daily Star is probably the last place you would look for accurate reporting, but this one is so ridiculous it has to be included.
With no quotes or attribution the article claims that Van Persie was seen house-hunting in a posh area outside of Manchester. This rumor is then interpreted by the Star as a sign that it will come down to a battle between Manchester City and United for his signature.
July 17, 2012: Arsenal to Tell Van Persie That He Cannot Leave Club This Summer
"Arsenal To Tell Van Persie That He Cannot Leave Club This Summer"
Goal.com is a widely read world football website, but makes a big claim without any real proof. Their story uses a quote credited to an unnamed “senior source” who claims that Arsenal are going to hold van Persie to his current contract. The source goes on to say that the club is hopeful van Persie will change his mind.
Sounds good, but there’s a different story every day.
July 22, 2012: Arsenal Will Survive! Wenger Is Keen on Quick RVP Sale
"Arsenal Will Survive! Wenger is Keen On Quick RVP Sale as Gunners Land in Malaysia"
The Daily Mail reports on Arsenal’s preseason tour from Malaysia. It accurately quotes Arsene Wenger speaking about the ongoing Robin van Persie saga.
Wenger stated, ‘Robin van Persie is a world-class striker. I am a big supporter of him and I have supported him throughout. We took him very young, he has one year left and he’s in demand.
‘It is our desire to keep him, but we’ll do what’s in the best interests of the club. If you have a decoder in your head, you can decode that.’
The Daily Mail decoded that statement to mean that Van Persie is on his way out with Wenger calling for a quick sale of the striker. How they got that out of Wenger’s evasive statement is not quite clear.
August 1, 2012: Fed-Up Van Persie Still Waiting—Agent Claims Juve Deal Is Done
"Fed-Up Van Persie Still Waiting to Take Off But Italian Agent Claims Juve Move is 'Done' Deal"
This one is just plain special. To start off, the Daily Mail uses a photo of van Persie simply at training. Their caption claims the photo shows van Persie “looking to leave” as “he waits to leave Arsenal”. Amazing how the Daily Mail could interpret van Persie’s thoughts from a photo.
The article uses a quote from an agent named Fabio Parisi, "I think Juventus have had a signed contract with Van Persie for some time locked away in a notary’s desk. It is just my opinion, but I think there’s an eight out of 10 chance the Dutchman will join the Bianconeri.”
While this is indeed an actual quote, it is a totally speculative statement which the agent even claims is just his own opinion. The Daily Mail ignores that fact and prints a misleading headline as if the quote is completely factual.
August 4, 2012: RvP U-Turn! Robin Van Persie Now Wants to STAY at Arsenal
"RvP U-turn! Robin van Persie Now Wants to STAY at Arsenal as Gunners Eye £7m Move for Ajax Star"
The Mirror is back at it. Once it’s revealed that van Persie will be joining his teammates for the club’s preseason trip to Germany it has to mean that that the club captain now wants to stay.
The article alludes to “club insiders” who “believe” van Persie now wants to stay. Last I thought belief is an opinion, not a fact.
August 8, 2012: Manchester United Ready to Secure Robin Van Persie Deal
"Manchester United Ready to Secure Robin van Persie Deal"
Mike Keegan of the Manchester Evening News really put himself out there earlier this week when he proclaimed that Manchester United were about to secure the signing of van Persie. He even Tweeted that van Persie might fly in to sign that very day.
EXCL: RVP could jet in to sign for #mufc before the end of the day as Reds race into pole position: http://menmedia.co.uk/manchestereveningnews/sport/football/manchester_united/s/1585555_manchester-united-ready-to-secure-robin-van-persie-deal …#mufc
Three days later and that jet has yet to land in Manchester.
Where Will the Story End?
With three weeks left to go in the transfer window, the Robin van Persie story is certain to keep providing new headlines.
Which ones will be factual is anyone's guess. The only certain thing is that we'll all know where van Persie will be playing this season by September 1st.
Then again, the story may continue anew until the January transfer window.