Why Van Persie Sale Is Proving to Be a Short-Term and Long-Term Win for Arsenal
It was a transfer which sparked debate amongst Arsenal and general football fans, with some citing Arsenal had yet again failed to match the ambitions of their top players—the latest of a series which had seen the likes of Kolo Toure, Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri, Gael Clichy and Emanuel Adebayor all move on.
van Persie scored 96 league goals for Arsenal in close to 200 league games; his best season in terms of scoring coming in his final campaign at the Emirates where he hit 30 goals.
But have Arsenal come out of the ordeal—again—doing not too badly at all?
Here's a look at how the Gunners might be benefiting both in the short term and the long term from the Dutch striker's departure.
Short Term: Good Money in for Ageing Player on Short Contract
With just one year remaining on his contract and having told the club he would not be signing a new deal, the options were pretty obvious for Arsenal when it came to Robin van Persie.
They could keep him for the last year of his contract—releasing him at the end of the 2012-13 season on a free transfer—or they could sell him this summer past, to the highest bidder.
Of course he went to Manchester United in the end; a rival, yes, but a high-paying one.
Despite van Persie turning 30 at the end of this season and only having a year left on his contract, United saw fit to pay over £20 million for the striker, hoping that his goal return for them would win them back the league championship.
For Arsenal, this was the best outcome they could have hoped for given the circumstances the forward had placed them in—or that they let themselves be put in, depending on how you view the situation.
Long Term: Allows Next Generation of Match-Winners to Step Up
His goals and ability are certainly a lot to replace, but Arsenal were said by outsiders to have been "carried" by Robin van Persie at times.
Simply by his absence, others are now forced to step up and contribute in terms of goals and winning games if Arsenal are to continue being relatively successful.
Whether that is already-established first team members such as Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, new (though experienced) recruits like Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla or even the newest generation of Gunners youngsters including Serge Gnabry, Arsenal will find their newest match-winners from within the club.
And with them, Robin van Persie's match-winning effect will eventually be forgotten.
Short Term: Shows Others That Arsenal Will Move on Regardless of Who Leaves
They said Arsenal wouldn't cope when Thierry Henry left—the same was mentioned when Cesc Fabregas went to Barcelona—and now the same words were spoken as van Persie packed his bags and headed for the rainier climes of Manchester.
The truth is, football clubs always move on in one way or another and perhaps current players—not exclusive to Arsenal by any means—might do well to remember that.
At present, Arsenal are embroiled in a similar battle with Theo Walcott, who has just one year left on his contract and has yet to sign a new one.
The Gunners doing fairly well since their star forward left will only show other players the team will continue on regardless of whether Walcott, or any other player, take their talents to fairer (or higher-paying) pastures.
Long Term: Funds from RvP Sale Can Be Re-Invested
Arsene Wenger is sometimes accused of not spending enough money to transform his very good side into an excellent one which can not only challenge for trophies but actually go on and win them.
The signings of Santi Cazorla and Lukas Podolski, as well as Olivier Giroud, show that the manager is certainly prepared to spend funds as and when he feels they are needed.
The sale of van Persie came after these three signings and thus it would seem that the Gunners boss will have further money available for the January transfer window—or next summer—for when he has identified further new recruits.
£20 million could bring in quite a few more promising youngsters to groom the Arsenal way, or else another player of the quality of Cazorla—with a bit of change left over.
Short Term: No Scenario Hanging over Club of Player Signing or Leaving
One important situation which was avoided with the sale of Robin van Persie is that of having an unhappy player at the club who everybody knows will not be there within a few months.
Not only would van Persie have been disappointed to have not secured a move away, but his team-mates would know he was only playing alongside them because he had to, not because he thought they were capable of winning trophies.
And when that player has been captain, there is the added awkwardness of stripping him of the honour, as Wenger would surely have had to do.
With the striker gone, it is a fresh start for the team without him and his presence and negativity need not hang over everybody throughout the club.
Long Term: New Captain Can Give the Side New Identity
All captains lead by their own particular example and while Robin van Persie may have won matches with his goals, the new man given the armband, central defender Thomas Vermaelen, will have his own way of doing things.
As mentioned previously, with van Persie as the captain and star striker there was often a sense of him carrying Arsenal and his passenger team-mates, right or wrong.
Now with a new man in place—one who has heart, determination, is vocal and experienced and has no shortage of technical quality—a new image of Arsenal has the chance to arise.
Of course, lifting the first trophy for the club in eight years might make the transition even smoother for the Belgian defender, but for now he can be content that his performances and stature within the game absolutely deserve the accolade of being the new captain of Arsenal FC.
Now, if only those teams from Manchester don't come knocking...
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