Manchester United: Why Robin Van Persie Transfer Is a Huge Risk for Red Devils

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistAugust 15, 2012

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

The transfer of Dutch international forward Robin van Persie from Arsenal to Manchester United is imminent, according to the Red Devils' official website.

Many people are commending Sir Alex Ferguson for signing Van Persie and regarding it as a major transfer coup.

But, for all the people commending Ferguson for the deal, there are critics as well.

They make a good point that Van Persie has only had success with Arsenal and nowhere else.

Before coming to the Emirates Stadium, Van Persie was with Feyenoord in the Eredivisie and only scored 15 goals in three seasons.

Van Persie is obviously a much better player now than he was in 2004 when his transfer to Arsenal went through.

However, there are concerns that, after such a successful season in which the Dutch forward scored 30 goals in the Premier League, he could be burnt out.

It is hard to believe that Van Persie, at the age of 29, is burnt out and will not perform as well this season, but the Gunners do have a history of selling stars right as their prime footballing years are behind them.

In the past decade, Arsenal have sold players like Thierry Henry, Alexander Hleb, Mathieu Flamini and Emmanuel Adebayor at the peak moment in their careers and none have had as much success since their move away from the club.

Henry, one of Arsenal's best players in its history, failed to match his success with the Gunners at Barcelona and moved to MLS to finish out his career after three seasons in Spain.

Hleb and Flamini were both transferred to big-name clubs and could not find any success either.

Hleb never found a permanent first-team spot with Barcelona and his now back home in Belarus playing for BATE Borisov.

Flamini has suffered the same fate in Italy, and was barely used by AC Milan last season due to a knee injury.

Adebayor still has a chance for success, but as long as he stays on the books at Manchester City, he will not be a prolific goal scorer as he sits behind Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko and Carlos Tevez on the depth chart.

Another trend that goes against Van Persie is the struggle of the leading scorer in the Premier League to perform better the next season.

In the history of the Premier League, only Alan Shearer and Henry have won back-to-back scoring titles, but their goal total still decreased from the first season they won the Golden Boot.

Shearer scored 34 goals during the 1994-95 season, and although he won the next two scoring titles, his total decreased to 31 the next year and 25 the year after.

Henry won three straight scoring titles starting in the 2003-04 season with 30 goals and only reached 25 and 27 in the next two seasons.

The drop in production for the other EPL top scorers is more drastic, especially over the past five seasons.

From 2006 to 2011, only one top goal scorer, Cristiano Ronaldo, was able to crack the top 10 in goals the next season.

Didier Drogba, twice, Dimitar Berbatov, Carlos Tevez and Nicolas Anelka all experienced a drop in production.

Another fear for United fans is that Van Persie will not be the main forward at Old Trafford.

Wayne Rooney will still be the club's top forward, and with young stars Chicharito and Danny Welbeck earning more playing time, Van Persie could suffer the same fate as Berbatov did last season.

With more depth at his new club, the Dutchman will have less pressure on his shoulders. At Arsenal, he was the only source of goals last season, which led to the 29-year-old being more relaxed as the focal point of the team. Now, however, the passion he displayed may not be as prevalent.

With all the recent trends and depth chart problems aside, Van Persie is still a very talented player and United are getting him for a very reasonable price, 24 million euros is the reported transfer fee.

Unlike the Arsenal team of last year, United will not have to solely rely on Van Persie and if he fails to succeed, there are three very strong options at the forward position that Sir Alex can look to for goals.

With all that being said, the deal is a risky one, but if Van Persie does well at Old Trafford, he could turn out to be one of Sir Alex Ferguson's best signings ever.

If he does not succeed, Van Persie could go down as one of the biggest transfer flops in world football history.


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