The big news we have been waiting for all season seems to have finally hit, as Robin van Persie is finally set to leave the Emirates for Old Trafford in a reported £24 million deal.
The move is clearly the blockbuster deal of the summer, as last year's top scorer in the Premier League has switched alliances in favor of his old club's league rival.
On the surface, the move is a terrible one for Arsenal. After all, van Persie had over three times as many goals as the club's second top scorer last season, yet is about to be sold for roughly the same fee that Tottenham have continually rejected for Luka Modric.
Further, the sale looks to be yet another example of Arsenal selling their best players, following the trend established by Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas last summer when they went to Manchester City and Barcelona, respectively. In fact, it is the second consecutive season that the Gunners have sold away their captain.
So what could possibly make the deal a more understandable piece of business? What reasoning could Arsene Wenger and the Arsenal board have had when they decided to give this deal their blessing? Well, let's play devil's advocate for the Gunners on this one.
For starters, van Persie had made his desire to leave the club perfectly clear this summer when he indicated it in a post on his personal website last month. Hanging on to a disgruntled asset is a poor business decision, as the price is driven down the more upset they get, lessening the team's bargaining position.
Now, business is obviously not the be-all end-all of decisions at a football club; at some point, the on-pitch interests must be as important, if not more. In this regard, it looks bleak for the Gunners. However, there are a few mitigating circumstances to consider.
For one thing, van Persie has had a well-documented history of injury troubles. Yes, he had a fantastic season last year, but that was actually the statistical outlier from his time at the Emirates.
Last season, RvP played all 38 matches in Arsenal's Premier League season. In all of his other seven seasons, the Dutchman didn't break 30. In fact, van Persie barely had as many appearances as a Gunner in 2009-10 and 2010-11 combined as he did in 2011-12.
Robin may have played superbly when on the pitch, but he has had a plethora of issues forcing him off of it. If he were to have a bit lesser of a season (which is the statistical likelihood), his value would drop. Instead, the Gunners can sell him on at the peak of his value and use the money to reinvest in young talent.
Further, van Persie is by no means a spring chicken. At 29 years of age, it would not be surprising if his body begins to break down over the next few years, especially given his past.
Perhaps Wenger and the club are using their experience with superstar Thierry Henry as a guide in this regard. In 2005-06, a 29-year-old Henry was coming off a season in which he scored 33 goals in 45 appearances.
In the summer of 2007, though, Arsenal turned down two £50 million bids for the Frenchman. Instead, Henry stayed one more year, had an injury-ravaged 2006-07, and was sold for just €24 million (less than £19 million).
According to the Daily Mail, "United are understood to have agreed a £15m downpayment," which "will rise to £24m depending on appearances. Van Persie is expected to sign a four-year contract worth over £200,000 a week."
Now, at the same age, van Persie has even better numbers and a longer injury history than Henry. Sounds like selling him might make sense given this fact.
Finally, there are the replacements Arsenal have already signed to replace RvP and the potential talent that United's money could get them.
This summer, Arsenal have already signed strikers Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud. The two combined for more goals than van Persie had last season, albeit in different leagues. Also, at 25 and 27 years of age, respectively, the duo likely has more years left than van Persie and had fees that were, combined, less than United's swoop for the Dutchman.
With as much money as Arsenal are looking to get from United, they should be able to sign a few more players, too.
Looking at the move from these perspectives, perhaps it isn't as insane as it seems on the surface. Don't get me wrong: Arsenal did not get better on the pitch today. Rather, they took a bit of a hit.
On the other hand, the deal looks like to be grounded in some solid logic and may pay dividends in the near future.
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