Last weekend it was reported that Robin van Persie would be open to the idea of rejoining his former club Arsenal, after just two seasons with Manchester United.
The Dutch striker, who played an instrumental role in helping the Red Devils secure their 20th league title in Sir Alex Ferguson’s final season at Old Trafford, is believed to be unhappy at Old Trafford partly due to his “uneasy relationship” with David Moyes.
How much truth there is to the story is unclear, but what is crystal clear is that Van Persie has entered the early stages of decline.
This comes as no great surprise, though. After all, Van Persie is now on the wrong side of 30, and because of a succession of injuries throughout his career the left-footed Dutchman was always unlikely to play into his late 30s.
At the top level, Van Persie realistically has another three or four years - maximum - by which point you’d expect him to have called time on his career.
This season has been a real stop-start campaign for the United striker. For the last two seasons it looked as if the prolific marksman had conquered his injury problems, but this term he has played a total of 13 Premier League matches, and the Red Devils have suffered as a result.
Because of his age and suspect injury record, it makes sense for Moyes to start planning for the future, including proceeding with plans to offload the injury-prone Van Persie.
The two-time Premier League Golden Boot winner was nothing but ultra professional under Ferguson, and it’s easy to understand why the Dutchman must have felt a little disenchanted in recent months.
He signed for the Red Devils in order to win silverware under the legendary Scot. It was never made clear to him that after just one season at Old Trafford he would be taking orders from former Everton boss Moyes, who has never won a single trophy during his entire managerial career and has struggled big time since taking the reins at the reigning Premier League champions.
Another bitter blow for Van Persie came around the same time as Ferguson’s departure, when Moyes opted to replace the club’s backroom staff, including first-team coach Rene Meulensteen.
“The way he (Meulensteen) trains is exceptional,” the striker revealed, glowingly, last year. “He is truly one of the best coaches in the world.
“I have had a lot of good trainers, but it’s the way he prepares our team for games. Every match is different, so every training session in the build-up to games is unique. We know exactly what to expect and he wins points for us through his training. We’ve won a lot of games by the odd goal and they are point winners, which we train for.”
Van Persie also said that he would go “into work every day whistling” last season, while his post-match interviews were often a joy to behold for Manchester United fans: the world-class striker was thoroughly enjoying life at Old Trafford. This was everything he’d hoped for and more after making the incredibly difficult decision to leave the Gunners.
However, something has undoubtedly changed this season. You don’t need to be an expert in body language to see that Van Persie is nowhere near as content as he was this time last year.
So, instead of keeping an unhappy, injury-prone striker who has already enjoyed his peak years as a footballer, it’s in everyone’s best interests for Moyes to move him on this summer.
The United manager could replace him with a younger, more reliable and equally talented striker - and Van Persie could go back to the Emirates Stadium, where you sense he has some unfinished business.
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