Manchester United: Robin Van Persie Can Have the Batistuta Effect

Andrew MacbrideContributor IIAugust 17, 2012

Robin Van Persie signs four year contract with Manchester United
Robin Van Persie signs four year contract with Manchester United

The £24 million signing of Robin Van Persie has certainly caused shockwaves in the Premier League, and probably Europe. This is the marquee signing Manchester United fans have been craving for a number of years, a signing many thought would never come. 

Much criticism has been leveled at the Glazer family over their lack of spending, primarily as a result of the debt the club has been saddled with due to their ownership. The aggressive spending of near neighbours Manchester City has only accentuated the feeling of negativity towards the Glazers from fans. The subsequent drain on the finances has forced manager Sir Alex Ferguson to look towards younger players with potential and, more importantly, resale value. 

These restrictions make the signing of Robin Van Persie all the more surprising considering at 29, he only has 3 or 4 seasons at most playing at the top level at the breathtaking standard he has produced in the last couple of years. 

The move has been greeted with a muted reaction, many observers feeling that Manchester United have overpaid for a player who is 29 and has a questionable injury record. Even Manchester United fans have been critical of the signing.

The view shared by many is that whilst the signing of a player of the calibre of Van Persie can only be a positive thing for the club, many feel that strength was needed in other areas, more notably central midfield. 

Personally, I feel that if Robin Van Persie has anything like the same impact as Gabriel Batistuta did when he signed for Roma from Fiorentina for what was estimated to be £20 million, then it will be worth every penny. 

Gabriel Batistuta was arguably one the greatest strikers to grace world football and was certainly one of the most prolific over the course of the 90's with Argentina and Fiorentina. He scored 168 goals in 269 games for the Florence club and retains to this day an almost godlike status. 

However, it was with Roma that he won his only Scudetto in the 2000-01 season. The Romans had perennially been in the shadow of their Milan rivals. Then manager Fabio Capello convinced the board to part with £20 million for the then 30-year-old Batistuta.

His impact? The 20 league goals to secure the title for only the third time in Roma's history meant he would never have to buy a drink in Rome again. 

There are many similarities between the legendary Argentine and the Dutchman. Both players were clinical in front of goal, capable of scoring with both feet and comfortable in the air. Batistuta, much like Van Persie, had an excellent first touch and could take a man on. Intriguingly, both are considered set-piece specialists as well. 

Like Van Persie has with his move to Manchester United, Batistuta also left with a heavy heart, having left a club that had little in the way of success in the years barring a Coppa Italia in 1995-96. Van Persie only has the 2005 FA Cup to his name. 

If by May 2012 Robin Van Persie has smashed 20-plus league goals like Batistuta did with Roma, to bring the Premier League title back to the red half of Manchester, he will never have to buy a drink in Manchester again and his signing will be hailed as a masterstroke by Sir Alex Ferguson.

Finally, for those who are too young to remember Batistuta, a look at YouTube will tell you all you need to know about the great man.