At the end of the 2010 season, if you were told Robin van Persie would become the franchise player at Manchester United, you would have laughed them out of the room.
But just 11 games into his Red Devils career, that's exactly what he's become.
At that time, United found themselves just one point short of the EPL title, but Chelsea proved that bit better over the season. However, the Rooney/Berbatov partnership was seen as the best in the league...and quite rightly so.
Thirty-eight goals in just 56 combined league starts was a magnificent return from two players at the height of their powers. Add to that Javier Hernandez the following season and United's front line was probably one of the most settled in the league.
And if they were looking elsewhere, would they shell out $38 million on a rival striker who started less than 40 percent of league games in that same season? A guy who made only 28 starts the year before and just 15 a year before that?
But fast forward two seasons and you have one of the most complete strikers in Europe who played every single game of the 2011/12 season, winning the Golden Boot and almost single-handedly keeping Arsenal relevant in the process.
To have a player like that on the market and available to fellow contenders was too good to be true. Of course, question marks would still be there regarding injuries, but making every single start the previous season is a nice sweetener when asking the owners to sign a slightly large check.
But you can increase that price tag by another $20 million-plus if his contract was not running out fast.
Being the main man at Arsenal, the focus of everything attacking that they delivered, suited the Dutch international. It was not certain whether playing in a team with so many more weapons resulting in significantly less touches would make the 29-year-old as relevant.
Add to that a period of adjustment and there was a legitimate argument that we might not see the best of van Persie until after Christmas.
Throw that apprehension out of the window. Van Persie is arguably on course for the best season of his career after hitting the ground running by scoring the winner on his full debut.
Problems with Wayne Rooney missing nearly half the season? Absolutely not. Eight goals and five assists in the nine games he has started is a quite phenomenal return for someone still getting used to his new surroundings.
United are quite rightly title favourites and without van Persie, that just wouldn't be the case. The exciting thing for United fans is that he's only going to get more comfortable with the players around him—creating a more complete player, if that's possible.
If ever United needed a lift after the deflation of the last minute of last season, van Persie has been the tonic.
With the Devils now through the Champions League group stages, the striker can concentrate on all things Premier League. And with Norwich, QPR, West Ham and Reading in their next four, he should be rubbing his hands together.
RvP is the new franchise player and the main reason why the EPL and Champions League double is a very realistic prospect this season.
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