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Arsenal will be happy they sold Robin van Persie to Manchester United

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Manchester United striker Robin van Persie is reported to be on the verge of completing a transfer to Turkish club Fenerbahce.

The move will bring an end the Dutchman's three year stint at Old Trafford and leave United with just three strikers with first team experience, captain Wayne Rooney, Javier Hernandez and young prospect James Wilson.

31-year-old Van Persie will leave the Theatre of Dreams with a Premier League and FA Community Shield winner's medal to his name. He will join a team that finished second in the Turkish Super Lig last season and be reunited with his compatriot Dirk Kuyt.

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Van Persie arrived at United in August 2012 for a fee of £24 million. Sir Alex Ferguson signed him on the back of a 30-goal season for Arsenal, which saw him win the Premier League Golden Boot.

United fought of competition from fierce rivals Manchester City to secure the signature of the then 29-year-old. It was almost unanimously regarded as an excellent piece of business by Ferguson.

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Based on the forwards debut season at Manchester United it looked as if he could go down as one of the club's all-time greats but things soon went down hill.

FIRST SEASON HEROICS

Manchester United went into the 2012/13 season having lost their Premier League crown to Manchester City in the most dramatic end to a season in the league's history. Sergio Aguero's 94th minute winner against QPR secured City's first league title in 44-years.

Ferguson was quick to delve into the transfer market to counter the rise of their city neighbours and the £24 million capture of Van Persie was what tipped the balance.

Van Persie joined the club as the hottest striker in the country. However, there were still doubts over his fitness. The Dutchman had endured a host of injuries during his time at the Emirates. Any fears were quickly quelled though as Van Persie emulating his goalscoring prowess of the previous season.

On his first start and with his first shot for the club he scored a stunning goal to give United the lead against Fulham. From that moment, the striker didn't look back. On 2 September 2012 he netted his first hat-trick for the club in a dramatic 3-2 victory against Southampton.

Later that month he gave United a late victory against Liverpool by converting from the spot. On 3 November he struck on his first appearance against his former club as he helped United to a 2-1 victory over Arsenal.

A defining moment of the forwards first season at the club came on 9 December when Van Persie's deflected free-kick gave United victory in a tense Manchester derby. He endured a ten game drought starting in February 2013 but recaptured his goalscoring touch for the run-in. United sealed their 20th league title on 22 April 2013.

Van Persie scored a sensational volley to set United on their way to victory against Aston Villa. He found the net twice more in the first-half to complete his hat-trick. It was a performance which epitomised his superb debut season at United.

He finished the season with 26 goals in the Premier League which meant he won the Golden Boot for the second year in a row. The prolific forward also claimed United's Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year award. After just a season at Old Trafford he had a Premier League medal to his name, something he had not managed to achieve in eight years at Arsenal.

The future was looking bright for Van Persie at Old Trafford, he was scoring goals and his injury problems were a thing of the past. However, little did United fans know that this would be as good as it would get from Van Persie.

THE DECLINE BEGINS

Ferguson's decision to retire had a disastrous impact on Van Persie's career at Manchester United. Van Persie was quite clearly disappointed with the Scotsman's decision to leave.

David Moyes arrived at the club in May 2013. Van Persie never managed to reach the same heights under Ferguson's successor. According to reports the Dutchman had a frosty relationship with his new manager.

The striker started the season well, scoring both goals in the Community Shield victory over Wigan before also recording a brace in the Premier League opener against Swansea. Despite this promising start it would prove to be an unimaginably disappointing for both United and the player himself.

He managed just 21 Premier League appearances in his second season at Old Trafford. His goal tally of 26 from the previous season plummeted to a mere 12 goals. The same injury problems that troubled him at Arsenal re-emerged as Moyes' team struggled.

He had his moments during the 2013/14 season, the highest point being a hat-trick as United pulled off a 3-2 aggregate victory over Olympiacos in the Champions League. During the same game he suffered one of his most high-profile injuries of the season and was ruled out of a difficult quarter-final clash with Bayern Munich.

Too often during the course of the season the front-man did not seem to be interested. His attitude was questioned. He seemed willing to perform when United were winning but as soon as they were struggling then he didn't seem to be up for the fight. Rumours continued to surface regarding bust-ups with Moyes. The club parted company with their manager after just ten months. The club finished in an unthinkable seventh position and it was announced that the Netherlands manager Louis van Gaal would take over at the club.

OPTIMISM AND DISAPPOINTMENT

Van Persie went to the 2014 World Cup as captain of the Netherlands. The Dutch were managed by, soon to be United manager, Louis van Gaal. All eyes were on the striker and his manager as the tournament began.

The Netherlands made an excellent start as they recorded a stunning 5-1 victory against the reigning world champions Spain. Van Persie scored twice in the opening game, the first of which was a magnificent flying header that will go down as one of the competitions most iconic goals of all-time.

Van Persie found the net again in a 3-2 victory over Australia which sent the Netherlands through to the knock-out stages. He scored the team's first penalty in the quarter-final shoot-out against Costa Rica. His fourth and final goal of the tournament also came from the penalty spot as he helped his country to a 3-0 victory over Brazil in the third place play-off.

The forwards performances at the tournament gave United fans something to be optimistic about going into the 2014/15 season. Images of a jubilant Van Persie high-fiving Van Gaal on the touchline evoked a belief that United's new manager could get the very best out of Van Persie. Unfortunately for United fans those hopes were quickly dashed.

The 31-year-old managed six more league appearances than he did in the previous season but his goal tally decreased once again. It was a very frustrating season for the United man. He scored his first goal of the season in an embarrassing 5-3 defeat to Leicester on 21 September 2014. However he could manage just nine more Premier League goals that season.

Highs were rare for Van Persie last season but one came as he struck a late equaliser against Chelsea at Old Trafford. In December he scored twice to give United an shaky 2-1 victory against Southampton. Lows were much more frequent and on 11 January 2015 he suffered an ankle injury in a home defeat to the Saints.

On 2 May 2015 United went down 1-0 to West Brom, a costly defeat. During the game Van Persie missed a penalty. He was later stripped of penalty taking duties by Van Gaal a move which seemed to all but signal the end of his Manchester United career. By the end of the season the fans and manager had lost faith in the striker.

MEANWHILE AT ARSENAL

The departure of Van Persie did not deflate Arsenal as much as the sale of Luis Suarez did at Liverpool. In their first season without the Dutchman they may have slipped from third to fourth place but they have by no means fared badly without the striker. It was important that when Van Persie left that others took over the goal scoring burden.

While Van Persie fired Manchester United to the title Theo Walcott emerged as a reliable goalscorer for Arsenal. The Englishman had the best goalscoring season of his career at a time when the Gunners really needed it. He managed 14 Premier League goals and 21 in all competitions. 

Wenger's team recorded 72 goals in the Premier League, only two fewer than the previous season. This showed that the departure of Van Persie did not have the drastic impact on Arsenal that many were anticipating. The reality was that Arsenal did not actually miss Van Persie that much. They managed the same amount of wins and three more points than they did in the Dutchman's last season at the club. Van Persie had undoubtedly had a tremendous impact on United but his departure did not cause such an impact on Arsenal.

As Van Persie struggled under David Moyes, Oliver Giroud had an excellent season under Arsene Wenger. The Frenchman managed 16 goals in the league, four more than Van Persie. The big front-man managed 22 goals in all competitions to finish as the clubs top goalscorer for the 2013/14 season.

The Gunners again found themselves finishing in fourth place but recorded four more wins and nine more points than they did in the 2011/12 season. Once again they had finished in a respectable position without Van Persie who was part of a United team that finished seventh and missed out on Europe for the first time since 1995. 

Last season all but confirmed that Wenger made the right decision when he let Van Persie go in the summer of 2012. Throughout the 2014/15 season Oliver Giroud and Alexis Sanchez were the main goal threats for the north London club.

28-year-old Giroud struck 14 Premier League goals while Sanchez managed 16 from midfield. The Chilean finished the season as the club's top scorer with 25 goals in all competitions, a commendable achievement for a player in his first season in England.

Arsenal finished the season with 75 points, five more than they did in Van Persie's swansong season. They also matched their league finish of that season, by finishing in third place. This meant that they avoided a Champions League play-off. For the second season in a row Manchester United finished below Arsenal as they had to settle for fourth place following a shaky spell towards the end of the season.

It's worth remembering that Arsenal got £24 million when they sold Van Persie back in 2012. At the time Arsenal fans and pundits were critical of Wenger because they believed that he kept selling their best players. The Dutchman was 29-years-old at the time and a fee in excess of £20 million for a player of that age is excellent deal. Frankly receiving such money for a player coming towards the end of his career would have been good business regardless of what Van Persie had achieved at Manchester United.

Van Persie's rapid demise has made it all the more clear that Wenger's side got the better deal when they sold the 30-goal striker. The forward may have delivered in his debut season but he has done little since.

Has he really justified his price tag? What price do you put on that 20th title that he almost single-handedly won? It would be pushing it to say that he's been worth the money that Ferguson paid for him. The injuries, the lack of effort and most importantly the lack of goals over the last two years have showed that Wenger was right all along.

The truth is that Arsenal haven't missed him. There has been no drastic slump like we saw when Luis Suarez departed Liverpool last summer. They have done fine without him, in fact they have done better. The Gunners won their first trophy in nine years by beating Hull in the FA Cup Final and retained the trophy last season, they also secured the Community Shield in 2014. That's three trophies compared to the two that Van Persie has won with Manchester United.

Wenger can look back on the summer of 2012 and be satisfied that he made the right call. Once again he has proved his doubters wrong. The Gunners are in a good place right now but the same cannot be said for Van Persie. He will leave United after two of the most disappointing years of his career while Wenger can look to the future and feel very optimistic.

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Topics:
Football
Premier League
Arsenal
Robin Van Persie
Manchester United

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