The 31-year-old Dutch striker has been a shadow of his former world-class self since Sir Alex Ferguson walked away from Old Trafford in May 2013 - and it’s no surprise that United have produced their best performances of the current season without the former Arsenal captain.
The Red Devils have won four of their previous five matches without Van Persie, who was injured against Swansea City last month, but that might not stop Louis van Gaal from selecting his close associate when he returns to full fitness.
Van Persie has not been a league sub this season
On the 24 occasions he has been available to start in the Premier League this season, Van Persie has always - without exception - started.
Despite how pitiful his performances have been for the large part of the current campaign, Van Gaal has continued to stick by his compatriot, the man he made captain of the Netherlands national team during his spell in charge of the Oranje.
Rooney is a better centre-forward
Van Gaal would point to the fact Van Persie has scored a reasonably impressive 10 league goals in 24 outings as evidence that the Dutchman still has plenty to offer United, but he is no longer the Red Devils’ best centre-forward - and there’s only room for one striker if United are to finish the season inside the top four.
Radamel Falcao is out of the equation - the beleaguered Colombia international will leave Old Trafford at the end of the season - but club captain Wayne Rooney has flourished in Van Persie’s absence upfront following an ineffective three-month stint in central midfield.
By moving Rooney back up top, Van Gaal has been able to deploy Ander Herrera in midfield - what a difference the Spaniard has made in recent weeks, by the way - while the revitalised Marouane Fellaini has caused havoc in the space between midfield and attack.
The switch to a 4-3-3 - or a 4-5-1, if you prefer - from a 4-4-2 has also allowed Juan Mata to shine.
The Spaniard was outstanding against Liverpool last Sunday - scoring both goals while playing as a ‘false right winger’ - and was also pretty decent against Tottenham a week earlier.
Juan Mata's masterclass is bad news for RvP
Mata, in this form, is undroppable - and it would be a travesty if Van Gaal drops any of the players who started against Liverpool for Van Persie when the Manchester derby rolls around in just under three weeks’ time.
Van Persie, who will have 12 months left to run on his contract this summer, is no longer good enough for Manchester United.
As bizarre as that would have sounded at the end of the 2012-13 campaign - in which Van Persie was so, so good - it’s true.
And for the first time this season, rather than starting him, Van Gaal must do what’s right for Manchester United - and that means leaving Van Persie on the bench for the game against City.
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