David Moyes Hypes Robin Van Persie Despite Manchester United-to-Arsenal Talk

Nick AkermanFeatured ColumnistFebruary 25, 2014

Manchester United's Robin Van Persie celebrates his penalty goal against Crystal Palace during their English Premier League soccer match at Selhurst Park, London, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Sang Tan)
Sang Tan/Associated Press

David Moyes has praised Robin van Persie ahead of Manchester United's Champions League clash with Olympiakos, amid talk the striker could be eyeing a sensation return to Arsenal.

The Scottish boss, who has been without both van Persie and Wayne Rooney for a significant part of the season, suggested the duo are key to the Red Devils' chances of rescuing a poor campaign, as reported by David McDonnell of the Mirror:

They're both vital to a lot of things we do. They're both excellent players and our record with them is better than without them, for sure.

They've both got themselves back into great shape and both are goalscorers. They score in the big games and make the big moments.

Thanassis Stavrakis/Associated Press

Rumours suggest van Persie could go full circle and head back to the Emirates at the end of the season. Originally reported by beIN Sports correspondent Tancredi Palmeri's podcast (listen from 14.45), the story was also picked up by a number of mainstream media outlets.

James Dickenson of the Express posted quotes attributed to Arsene Wenger, who was asked if he is interested in bringing his former star back to North London:

"Look, I don't think that's an ideal subject for us to treat today," said the Arsenal manager. "I think it's best we don't talk about that at the moment."

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 22:  Robin Van Persie of Manchester United steps off the team bus to a noisy welcome from the home supporters prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Manchester United at Selhurst Park on February 2
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Reports earlier in the season claimed van Persie may be looking to leave after Moyes let Rene Meulensteen go when he was first installed as manager in the summer, per Rob Dawson of the Manchester Evening News. The Dutch coach was said to be behind van Persie's decision to join United in the first place and may have moved on quicker than the player expected.

BBC Pundit and former Liverpool defender Martin Lawrenson even went so far as suggesting "the big whisper is van Persie might have asked for a transfer," although this remains unconfirmed.

Van Persie has been in goalscoring form since returning from injury. He has netted five in six games from Jan. 28, recorded by WhoScored.com, while he should have buried Arsenal with at least one strike during the 0-0 draw of Feb. 12.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 10:  Robin van Persie of Manchester United competes with Mikel Arteta of Arsenal during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Arsenal at Old Trafford on November 10, 2013 in Manchester, England.  (P
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Even so, Moyes will be extremely pleased to have the No. 20 back. Van Persie can teeter on anonymous before popping up with a crucial goal, as noted in the win at Crystal Palace, and is the kind of natural finisher United have craved all season.

Moyes certainly won't want to see the former Gunners favourite leave—especially back to Arsenal—where he is unlikely to receive a warm welcome. At 30 years old, van Persie may have a major decision to make.

Rooney has just quashed similar rumours by signing a £300,000-per-week deal with the club, reported by Sky Sports. Perhaps his forward partner is looking for the same kind of compensation after firing United to the title last year.