Robin van Persie looks set to miss between four to six weeks of football after suffering a sprained knee in Manchester United's midweek Champions League victory over Olympiakos. The injury occurred after the Dutchman had scored a hat-trick in the match, which overturned United's 2-0 deficit from the first leg.
Those three games have taken Van Persie's tally for the season to 17 goals in 25 appearances, not a bad return for a player who missed most of December and January through injury. Despite the Dutchman's obvious threat and goalscoring form his absence could prove to be an opportunity for manager David Moyes to develop the partnership between Wayne Rooney and new signing Juan Mata.
At times, since Mata's arrival, it has looked as though Moyes has struggled to gel all three players together with the players themselves unsure as to where they should be playing on the pitch. Rooney has found it difficult to drop off the front because he has found Mata trying to dictate play himself in the number 10 role. Now Rooney knows he must lead the attack in place of Van Persie and Mata can become the creative player that we know he is.
Recently there have been rumours that Van Persie is unhappy at the club and could be looking for a way out and if that turns out to be the case then the Rooney-Mata partnership could be crucial moving forward. If they forge a good understanding whilst Van Persie is absent then United could be looking at this being a long term arrangement.
Certainly there is no doubting Van Persie's quality and any absence of a player with his class is a blow to any club but United, and Moyes especially, need to find a consistent winning formula if they are to find a way out of the troubles that they have encountered this season.
Mata and Rooney have made a good start to their partnership with a solid performance in United's 2-0 victory at West Ham at the weekend. The game was marked by Rooney's goal of the season contender which set United on their way to victory but overall the duo seemed to link well, which could bode well for everyone involved.
Will United supporters be willing to let Van Persie leave if it meant the forging of a formidable partnership between Rooney and Mata? Although Van Persie was instrumental in firing United to glory last season he may well find himself leaving just a year after. We shall see how things develop during what will probably be a busy summer for United.
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