Football

Van Persie must be admired - not vilified

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Robin van Persie's decision not to extend his eight year stay with Arsenal comes as no great surprise, and neither will the inevitable cries of 'Judas' from the terraces when he leaves the club in pursuit of a significant pay rise.

The Arsenal captain made a point to establish that his reasons for wanting to leave the club are motivated by the desire for success rather than the want of financial gain, but this is unlikely to wash with the majority of Gunners fans.

Van Persie, they will say, has had his head turned by the riches of Manchester City, and has prioritised increasing his salary over staying loyal to the club where he has forged his name.

Little thought will be given to the fact that, not only can City offer a far greater wage than Arsenal, but they happen to be the champions of England and have the finance and structure to dominate at home and abroad for years to come.

The pursuit of silverware has played a significant part in Van Persie's decision to depart, with his current club unable to allay his fears that they are on a downward slide rather than an upward curve.

But, should it transpire that money was indeed the Dutchman's key motivation for wanting to leave the Emirates Stadium, then is it really fair to castigate Van Persie for chasing a higher salary? Quite simply, it is not.

The emotional and financial investment of fans into the respective clubs they support is thus that many demand loyalty from the players they watch so regularly.

But the expectation of a player to remain loyal is almost fanciful given the astronomical salaries on offer, and footballers should be allowed to further their careers without the bilious abuse a transfer so often attracts.

Yes, fans can be forgiven for expressing emotions of anger and despair at the departures of their former idols but, in the case of Van Persie and so many others, it is futile to blame players attempting to gain a professional fillip.

Loyalty has long since been cast into the annals of football history along with flat caps and buttoned jerseys, but an assumption of unwavering devotion is one still harboured by the faithful majority.

The departure of Van Persie will raise wider questions about Arsenal's reluctance to spend and the modest targets of a club once deemed invincible, while his conduct over the past 24 hours will rile those who believe players have too much power.

Van Persie has strained every last sinew to ensure Arsenal retain a place among the elite clubs in the Premier League, and now wants a salary to make certain he does too. And for that, he should be admired.

Topics:
Arsenal
Robin Van Persie
Football
Premier League
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