Pride in Battle or in Money?
Robin Van Persie could be kissing this crest after every goal next season, but the pride he'd be adoring wouldn't be in honor of "bloed en Zweet", it'll be in honor of a padded and fatter purse.
So is he to turn blue then?
Van Persie has given as many years to Arsenal as the iconic Thierry Henry. The latter left Arsenal after eight seasons. The current season is Van Persie's eighth. If he decides to leave, it wouldn't be fair to call him disloyal.
The only complaint Arsenal could have would be that he leaves at the best moment of his career when they could just be set to reap in him the fruit of their investment, which is what happened in the case of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri.
In comparison, Thierry Henry left the club at the dawn of a niggling problem with fitness. He had already given his best years to Arsenal by then.That he's still loved at Arsenal today may have a lot to do with this difference. It is unlikely that Arsenal fans will be as magnanimous with Van Persie if he leaves now.
But leave he may.
It makes sense economically.
When the fields were more even, players could stay with one club for the whole of their career. Loyalty could make a player forego a difference of 20 to 60 thousand pounds of weekly wages.
Now things are different, with the likes of Manchester City, Real Madrid, Chelsea and Anzhi Makhachkala doubling or tripling players' wages to tempt them away from their clubs.
Nasri is reported to have doubled his weekly wages when he signed for City. Gaël Clichy may have increased his considerably as well.
How many of us can turn down opportunities that promise to drastically improve our prospect?
The prudent salary structure at Arsenal does not help. Reported at 90 thousand pounds a week for the highest-paid player (said to have been Cesc Fabregas), the possibility of keeping Van Persie on that when another club is ready to pay him twice or thrice as much is slim.
It makes sense as insurance.
At 28, Van Persie has approximately four years of active playing time left in his career. If he signs a four-year contract extension with Arsenal, that'll be it. At 32, no club will offer him the kind of money he is likely to get at this point.
Okay that's not totally true.
Anzhi could still come calling or a club in Turkey, or even an MLS club—that depends on whether or not he stays healthy and productive.
This last possibility does not open or close in relation to whether or not Van Persie stays at Arsenal. He could go to City and double his earnings and still leave after that for Russia or America.
The plain truth is this: It is more prudent for Van Persie to leave Arsenal now than staying. This is not to say I want him to leave. I want to see him stay as badly as the next person.
But will he?
A lot depends on what Arsenal offer him, but since they are unlikely to match City might for might financially, the chances of him leaving are higher than of him staying.
City fans know this, which is why last Tuesday at the Emirates they sang: "Robin van Persie, he's gonna be blue."
To keep him red will be a Herculean task.