Football

Robin van Persie is a fading force in the Premier League

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When Robin van Persie scored twice against Southampton to extend Manchester United's winning run to five consecutive Premier League games after their fortuitous 2-1 victory at St Mary's, naturally the newspaper headlines the following morning centred around the striker's timely return to form.

The Daily Mail even went as far as suggesting that the ageing Dutchman is on a par with Sergio Aguero and Diego Costa - the Manchester City and Chelsea marksmen who are head and shoulders above the rest of their peers when it comes to goalscoring in England's top-flight division.

But, whilst Van Persie's contribution towards securing three points against Saints on Monday was undeniably vital, the widespread praise that's been heaped on the 31-year-old will prove to be a false dawn.

In the past 18 months you can count on one hand the number of impressive performances that the former Arsenal captain has delivered, and after an impressive debut campaign at Old Trafford - during which time he scored 26 goals to claim his first Premier League title in Sir Alex Ferguson's final season as Red Devils manager - there's been a shared feeling amongst a growing number of supporters that Van Persie's career is on the wane.

Even the arrival of his compatriot Louis van Gaal - who was appointed as David Moyes's successor during the summer - has done little to spark the fading frontman back into action, with too many inconsistent displays for Van Persie to retain his place in the elite bracket of world-class talisman.

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Age catches up with everyone eventually and there's no shame in admitting that time is no longer on your side, but reluctance to accept that Van Persie's best days are behind him will end up harming Manchester United's prospects this season.

Over the years, the Netherlands international has relished the big games, but in 2014/15 he's primarily found the net against lesser opposition, with his strike against Chelsea the only other notable goal against a top side.

When the Red Devils travelled to London to face his old club at the Emirates last month, Van Persie looked a shadow of his former self, and was heavily criticised for his ineffective performance which put more pressure on Van Gaal to drop the misfiring striker.

He responded with a well-taken goal in the 3-0 home win against Steve Bruce's Tigers, but then took a step backwards with another underwhelming display versus Stoke City before briefly enhancing his reputation again with the two-goal salvo against Southampton.

Don't believe the hype

However, anyone that truly believes Van Persie is back to his best is, quite frankly, deluded, because he's nowhere near the level he'd reached when Manchester United paid Arsenal £24 million for his services in 2012.

Moyes took the bulk of the blame for the £250,000-a-week star's poor return for the Red Devils last season, but it's clear now that there was much more to it than Van Persie simply not enjoying working under the now Real Sociedad manager.

Van Gaal needs to start planning for a future without Van Persie, and Manchester United should give serious consideration to cashing in on him next summer, particularly if there's any truth in that infamous £10 million loyalty bonus that's looming.

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Topics:
Robin Van Persie
Manchester United
Premier League
Football

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