Robin van Persie vs. Eric Cantona: Scoring the Battle Between Man Utd Forwards

Max TowleAnalyst IFebruary 7, 2013

Robin van Persie vs. Eric Cantona: Scoring the Battle Between Man Utd Forwards

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    Though he only moved to the club last summer, Manchester United forward Robin van Persie has already made a remarkable impact on the club.

    Not only has he scored goals for fun, he has led his team to new heights, inspiring those alongside him with his effervescent style of football.

    In a recent interview with United Review, long-serving manager Sir Alex Ferguson likened the Dutchman's impact to that of legendary Red Devil Eric Cantona (h/t Daily Mail):

    We did it when we brought Eric Cantona to Old Trafford where he proved to be the right player at the right club at the right time. He became the catalyst and springboard for our surge to success.

    While it is near-impossible to compare the two, and rightly so, sometimes it's nice to have a bit of fun.

    For the pure fantasists out there, here is a look at both players' strengths and best attributes, with scores given for five categories scored out of 10.

    Who would you rather have in your team?


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    Eric Cantona: 9.5

    Possessing a uniquely continental style of thinking and playing, Eric Cantona inspired his teammates to greater heights purely by example.

    His sensational technique has been copied by many since, but who can honestly match the Frenchman for pure class?


    Robin van Persie: 9.5

    I have no qualms in suggesting that the deadly Robin van Persie's technique is near-flawless.

    Like Cantona, he is one of the best pure strikers of the ball in recent history. The Dutchman can shoot from distance, has excellent close control and makes the more routine tap-ins look easy.

Strike Rate

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    Eric Cantona: 8

    Strike Rate: 165 goals in 440 appearances (career), 82 goals in 185 appearances (Man Utd)

    Over the course of his eight-club career, Eric Cantona has always been a consistent goalscorer.

    But it is not necessarily the rate at which he has found the back of the net that sees him ranked as one of the greatest to play the game—rather his mercurial ability.


    Robin van Persie: 9.5

    Strike Rate: 175 goals in 382 appearances (career), 22 goals in 28 appearances (Man Utd)

    Since making the £24 million move from Arsenal in the summer, Robin van Persie has well and truly kicked off his Old Trafford career with a bang.

    Since emerging as a prodigious talent at Feyenoord, he has gradually become more prolific in front of goal during his career, and is currently at the peak of his abilities.


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    Eric Cantona: 9.5

    One of the Frenchman's best attributes was his ability to create something magical from absolutely nothing.

    He was the creative spark for his team on countless occasions, often dominating the flow of a game with his effervescent passing and overall inventiveness.


    Robin van Persie: 8.5

    As well as his 22 goals, Robin van Persie has also racked up six assists this season for the Red Devils.

    He is unselfish if a teammate has a clearer path to goal, provides a creative outlet further up the pitch and is perfectly reliable in quick, link-up play.


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    Eric Cantona: 10

    The legacy of Cantona extends even beyond the stands at Old Trafford, but heavily influences the history of the British game itself.

    The Telegraph's Mark Ogden recently wrote: "none played the Pied Piper role like Cantona. English football in 2012 would be a different place had Cantona not arrived to help change it in 1992."


    Robin van Persie: 9

    Though it may still be a little early to score Robin van Persie's influence at United—he has only played for the club for a little over half a season—the signs are that he could be the catalyst for yet more trophies for Sir Alex.

    The Red Devils have undergone small but noticeable changes in their way of playing since the Dutchman's arrival, but Manchester United have overall become a far more feared prospect for opposition teams.


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    Eric Cantona: 10

    Is there a more apt way to describe Eric Cantona than the "X-factor" that inspired Manchester United to greatness in the early and mid-'90s?

    Fans couldn't take their eyes of him during games for fear of missing a highlight-reel worthy moment that could turn a game on its head in an instant.


    Robin van Persie: 9.5

    Robin van Persie, too, has the potential in his boots to win a game when all seems lost.

    This season alone he has already scored match-winning goals against West Ham, Manchester City, Reading, Liverpool, CFR Cluj and Southampton—how's that for an X-factor?

Final Scores

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    Eric Cantona: 47/50

    Robin van Persie: 46/50


    Judging by my scores, Eric Cantona shades it by a nose.

    While it is difficult to compare two players from different eras, the Frenchman certainly has the edge, however small, over his Dutch rival.

    When all is said and done, though, fans of the Red Devils will just be glad that both took the pitch draped in Manchester red at one point during their respective careers.


    For the five categories listed, how would you score a theoretical battle between Eric Cantona and Robin van Persie?