The news broke late last night that Arsenal fans had been fearing all summer – Robin Van Persie will not be signing a new deal with the Gunners.
The Dutchman’s future has been the subject of intense speculation for some time, with plenty of clubs interested in taking the leading scorer in the Premier League last season.
Juventus and Manchester City have both been reportedly interested in the 28-year-old who has one year left on his deal at the Emirates, while Manchester United are also believed to be monitoring developments closely.
So where could the Arsenal skipper end up next season? Will he be somewhere in Europe or will he remain in the Premier League, or even stay with Arsenal?
A move to Europe?
All of the early signs appeared to indicate that a move away from the Premier League was Van Persie’s best route out of Arsenal this summer. Juventus were said to be very keen while Paris Saint-Germain’s interest was also believed to be fairly concrete.
However a move away for England now looks unlikely. Reports last week said Juve had offered a paltry £8 million for Van Persie, a figure unlikely to force Arsenal’s hand into selling up. They remain in the running but unless they up their interest, then it looks unlikely a deal can be done, especially given that they have been fairly active in the transfer market already.
It is unlikely Van Persie will want to make the move to Ligue 1 to join up with PSG – although they can offer him domestic trophies and the club’s Qatari owners will splash the cash to make waves in the Champions League, the appeal of the French league is hardly likely to draw the Dutchman in.
Stay in the Premier League?
No doubt that if Arsenal were to sell Van Persie they would like him as far away from the Premier League as possible, although that might not be the case.
Manchester City lead the way for the Dutchman, have the money and more importantly the silverware to match Van Persie’s ambitions.
Roberto Mancini has previously said he is a fan of the Dutchman, and while there won’t be the summer striker exodus from the Etihad Stadium he may still be able to find room for the Arsenal man, especially given his relatively low price tag.
Manchester United are lurking on the periphery of the saga and could launch a bid for the striker later this summer, although it is clear that their cross-city rivals are the front runners. Some in the media are already suggesting that an agreement has been reached and all that is left is to thrash out a price with Arsenal.
Stay with Arsenal?
Perhaps the least likely of all three, although stranger things have happened in football. Arsenal appear to have had their fingers burned last season with both Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas leaving last summer, throwing Arsene Wenger’s plans into chaos.
There is no doubt Wenger will be hurt by Van Persie’s revelation, which is said to have caught Arsenal completely off guard, and will be concerned about the damage it will do to the club’s reputation. The Frenchman’s comments the day before Van Persie’s statement that he hoped the striker would stay put and end his career in north London perfectly highlight the confusion over the issue.
There is no doubt Van Persie’s statement means he has burned his bridges with Arsenal. It is a damning indictment on how he sees Arsenal, saying he disagrees with the club over the best way to move forward, while adding in that he ‘personally’ had a great season (not the team) and that he wants to ‘win trophies’ – something he evidently feels he cannot do with the Gunners.
Of course Arsenal want to be seen as strong – in their response to Van Persie’s statement they hinted he would run down his contract rather than sell him – but there is no point in the club being foolhardy and missing out on a fee of around £25 million. If he wants to go, they may be tempted to let him, and having dealt with losing players excellently last season, they’ll be confident of doing the same again.