It can never be easy for a star at a top club when rumours are flying around linking a world-class player, who plays in the same position, to their team.
Whilst the vast majority of transfer speculation can be discarded as regurgitated nonsense and jargon useful only for filling the blank pages of a newspaper, there must always reside that nagging notion that you’re about to be replaced. That idea can ever so quickly evolve into pressure and before too long a usually consistent performer can find himself playing with unnecessary strain, and struggling as a result.
It’s why most clubs usually try their best to detach themselves from transfer rumours until their 100 per cent sure that they intend on making them. This season Manchester United don’t have that luxury. Such has been the astonishing nature of the Red Devils’ downward spiral that there’s barely been a day pass that hasn’t seen them linked to a player either on the domestic front or overseas.
Whilst this is to be expected it’s hardly good news. Not only does it stir United supporters up to the point where they are expecting David Moyes to perform transfer miracles as soon as the summer market opens, but it also creates a general atmosphere of unrest amongst the players. In my opinion that feeling of uneasiness is already beginning to take its toll on a number of members of the first-team squad. Perhaps the most evident victim; Robin van Perise.
The Dutchman was completely unplayable in his debut season at Old Trafford, and became the most pivotal driving force during his side’s bid to reclaim the Premier League title - which they were so effortlessly successful with. This season he just doesn’t seem the same.
A number of theories have naturally surfaced, from the difference in approach between Sir Alex Ferguson and Moyes to a longing to move away from United. Van Persie has denied them all. As far as recent reports can allude to, the striker is more than comfortable with remaining a Red Devil for the foreseeable future, regardless of what the gossip might infer.
For me though Van Persie can’t truly be comfortable whilst strong claims link his club to Paris Saint-Germain forward Edinson Cavani. The £55million target is said to be disgruntled at Laurent Blanc’s persistence in playing him on the wing in order to accommodate the talents of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and if this is the case one would assume that he’d only join United under the promise of being offered a place in Moyes’ frontline. With Wayne Rooney having just pledged his long-term future to the club, it’s unlikely he’s going to be ousted.
And so any insecurities Van Persie may have over his own future are well-founded. In Cavani he doesn’t have a potential challenger for his position in the form a budding starlet looking to make his way in the game, he has a proven and recognised talent whose goal-haul over the last two seasons rivals even his own.
What United need to be doing now is handing the 30-year-old a new deal which ensures their commitment to him and alleviates any uncertainty concerning his future at the club. They can’t hope to get the best out of him whilst the prospect of him being offloaded in favour of a ready-made replacement hangs over his head.
Only recently did Van Persie speak out in order to clarify that he wished to continue at United past the end of this summer. His team now need to return the favour.