Will he join the exodus?
“I personally have had a great season but my goal has been to win trophies with the team and to bring the club back to its glory days.
“Out of my huge respect for Mr. Wenger, the players and the fans I don’t want to go into any details, but unfortunately in this meeting it has again become clear to me that we in many aspects disagree on the way Arsenal FC should move forward.
“I’ve thought long and hard about it, but I have decided not to extend my contract. You guys, the fans, have of course the right to disagree with my view and decision and I will always respect your opinions.” – Robin van Persie original statement published in The Telegraph
The world of Arsenal went into delirium after the captain chose not to renew his contract with the club, following an amazing campaign that saw him smash in 37 goals in all competitions.
Arsenal wanted to play hardball, rejecting offers from Juventus, Manchester United and Manchester City but when the Red Devils came with an improved offer, the Arsenal hierarchy did what they do best—cash in on their talisman.
This brought mixed opinions within the Arsenal support, as some felt really hurt by van Persie’s statement while others didn’t really care, giving their captain their blessings to leave as well as shutting the door behind him.
Some fans felt that RVP had every right to do what he wanted in his situation. He had been at the club for a long while and had not won anything. He must have looked at other players who had left in recent seasons (Thierry Henry, Cesc Fabregas, Gael Clichy, Samir Nasri, Mathieu Flamini, etc), and they had all won trophies in their respectively clubs and he clearly wanted some of that.
Hey, a footballer’s career is short, and he wants medals and trophies won to look back on. Not memories of scoring all kinds of beautiful goals in the opposition half only for your team to concede on the other end.
Even Robin van Persie scored in the 2011 Carling Cup Final and got injured, only for Laurent Koscielny and Wojciech Szczesny to cock up late on to lose the tie.
Some fans spoke about the issue of loyalty to Arsene Wenger as the manager has showed his undying faith in his players' times without number. Wenger had transformed the likes of Emmanuel Adebayor, Fabregas, Clichy, Nasri and RVP into world-beaters, but they turned around and threw eggs on his face.
Then again, this thing about RVP having to show Wenger loyalty was a bit far-fetched. That’s the risk Wenger and the club took in not strengthening properly in the last eight seasons. If Arsenal had won a trophies in recent times, the aforementioned players would still remain on Arsenal’s pay roll.
If you’ve not had your first cigarette, you can’t get addicted to smoking.
Twelve months on and out of the blue, Laurent Koscielny, yes, Laurent Koscielny has dropped a RVP-esque bombshell, citing that he would leave the club if the trophy drought continues (h/t Goal.com) in an interview with EuroSport,
I feel good at Arsenal, if we have ambition to fight against the other teams of course I want to stay here. It’s hard psychologically. We are constantly pressured because if Arsenal is not in the Champions League it would be a catastrophe.
I have to see if I have clubs interested in me. I will not go to any club. I want to may be discover another league. Paris [Saint-Germain]? There has been no contact yet.
It is hard to not win titles year after year. We are competitors, professionals, we want to win. I want to add to my list of achievements. If Arsenal cannot allow me that, I’ll seek a move elsewhere.
The way Koscielny’s career has turned around is a massive fairytale. Five years ago, he was plying his trade in Tours FC, a Ligue 2 outfit. In his second season at Tours FC, he was an ever-present figure, missing only four league appearances, and he earned a place in the Ligue 2 Team of the Year at the end of that season.
FC Lorient snatched him up for €1.7 million, and he was also a regular starter in the mid-table outfit, amassing a 100 percent tackle rating. With the exits of William Gallas, Philippe Senderos and Mikael Silvestre, Wenger offered this lad a chance to play top flight football on a consistent basis.
He notched up at a total of 86 appearances in his two seasons with the club, scoring six goals. Last season, Koscielny endeared himself into Arsenal hearts with consistent stellar performances that even made him overshadow Thomas Vermaelen in the heart of Arsenal’s defense.
Koscielny’s ability to read the game and anticipate a forward’s move is second to none. His pace is a good factor, and his recovery instincts are top-notch as well. He also offers a threat up front from corner kicks because he has a decent heading ability, and he can pop up in the box with that odd goal or two, like the type that granted Arsenal Champions League qualification.
However, his comments are no different from RVP’s last summer, citing that Arsenal’s lack of ambition was his primary reason for seeking greener pastures.
Koscielny was key in Arsenal’s surge for a fourth-place finish, and he has attracted interest from Bayern Munich, according the The Sun. Even if he recently signed a new deal that would keep him in the club till 2017, an audacious bid from the German giants could see Kos jump ship.
Koscielny might undermine Arsenal’s ambition for always battling for European qualification, but for a team like Bayern Munich, it will be a different ballgame, and their expectations would be to win trophies which will add more pressure on the players to deliver, unlike Arsenal where it has become OK to just qualify for Champions League football. Sad.
In all honesty, this Koscielny revelation should be an eyeopener to Arsene Wenger and the Arsenal hierarchy. How can the Gunners expect to keep hold on their best players when the club hardly gives them reasons to stay?
Last season, the Gunners were 16 points below the champions, Manchester United, and were knocked out of the domestic cup competitions by lowly Bradford and Blackburn. In the Champions League, a poor showing in the first leg became the team’s undoing, as an impressive 2-0 away victory in Bavaria wasn’t still enough to book a quarterfinal berth.
For a team that has won three League titles and four FA Cups under Wenger, this is not good enough!
This summer has to be different, and there can be no excuses.
The club needs to hold onto its players and bring in some quality signings in three key positions.
Wojciech Szczesny needs some competition. Speculation regarding Queen’s Park Ranger’s goalie, Julio Cesar’s potential arrival is highly welcome, according to Goal.com. With Fabianski probably on his way out, Szczesny would sleep well at night knowing that he has only Vito Mannone to contend with.
Despite the fact that Mikel Arteta put up a great shift in his first season as a holding midfielder, Arsenal still needs a recognized defensive midfielder who could stamp his authority on the pitch. Lyon’s Maxime Gonalons has been heavily linked, according to the Daily Mail, with the club, and he’ll add some steel to the midfield.
Olivier Giroud may have scored 17 goals in his debut campaign, but Arsenal needs that specialist forward (not Theo Walcott) who can bang in the goals when the going gets tough. Fiorentina’s Stevan Jovetic and Galatasaray’s Burak Yilmaz would tick those boxes.
Unlike van Persie who had a swipe at the team’s ambition after a strong campaign under his belt, some may feel that Koscielny is in no position to threaten to leave the club. Then again, you can never know what goes on in the head of a professional footballer.
Some fans would be quick to point fingers at Koscielny, stating that Wenger made him what he is today. True.
But it’s the same Wenger who made Adebayor, Fabregas, Clichy, Flamini and RVP what they are today, and they aren’t wearing the Red and White of Arsenal.
Like the van Persie situation, I expect a mixed response on Koscielny’s quotes from the Arsenal faithful.
Feel free to share them with your comments.
This article is also featured in Toni Okike's Arsenal blog, Gooner Daily