Fans braced for RVP exit

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An exclusive GMF poll has revealed that most fans think Robin van Persie will have left Arsenal by September 1 - with Juventus his most likely destination

Fans were asked where they think RVP will be playing at the end of the summer transfer window, and a majority see the Gunners star playing away from the Emirates Stadium.

More than 18,000 fans voted, and almost 43% said they believe the Dutch striker will see out his contract with Arsenal, before leaving on a free transfer next summer. But 57% of voters see the Dutchman in a different kit next season, with their vote split between Juventus, Manchester City, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The Italian giants are his most likely destination, with one in five fans saying they think the Gunners frontman will be plying his trade in Italy. 15% of fans see RVP alongside Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta in a Barca shirt, while just 8% think he will join Roberto Mancini's Premier League champions.

That might be wishful thinking as Manchester City are heavily linked with the Arsenal forward, and possess the added attraction of a settled ex-Gunners community. In recent seasons Samir Nasri, Gael Clichy, and Kolo Toure have all swapped north London for Manchester - and gone on to win trophies.

Manchester United and Real Madrid received just 6% and 9% respectively, but both clubs would prove tempting if they moved in for the striker.

RVP's exit is assured, all that remains to be settled is his departure date. Will he leave now, allowing Arsenal to recoup a transfer fee, or will he stick around, and depart for nothing next summer.

Two out of every five fans think he'll stay for one more year at Arsenal, but realistically, it makes more sense for him to move on now. Leave now, and Arsenal can take the cash and rebuild. With Podolski and Giroud, the Gunners have the beginnings of a new team. Granted, they would flourish faster alongside the presence of Robin van Perise, but it's time to sever ties with the Dutchman.

That doesn't escape the fact that Arsenal's transfer policy has left the club in a state of perpetual transition. But that is no fault of the manager - rather the blame can be laid squarely at the door of the Arsenal boardroom.

Alisher Usmanov's scathing open letter deconstructed the perceived failings of Stan Kroenke's leadership. While the timing of the letter's release smacks of opportunism, several of the Uzbeki's points will resonate with Gunners' fans.

Firstly, Arsenal's "self-financing" policy, while admirable, has handicapped Wenger, testing his famous transfer nous to the limit. Finding a gem on the cheap can pay huge dividends - see Cesc Fabregas, but for every Fabregas there is a Bendtner - the policy is difficult to get right consistently.

In contrast, spending vast sums of money, while unpopular, guarantees success. It's difficult to mess up when splashing out £38million on Sergio Aguero and £24million on Yaya Toure - you are going to hit more often than you miss.

Wenger has done an incredible job so far, but Arsenal currently find themselves slipping dangerously down into a tier two team. Their best players, eager to win trophies, find their path blocked at the Emirates and move on to Barcelona, United and now City. The squads of these teams have moved on, improved and retained their best players - Arsenal have moved on, but often without their top talent.

The cycle is difficult to break, and Wenger has been swimming against the tide for years as first Henry, then Fabregas, and then Nasri, left the sanctuary of north London. Now RVP is going, and you get the sense Arsenal's wait for a trophy has just been pushed back a few years. Their obsession with the future has come at the expense of the present, and Arsenal have been left helpless as their best young players depart as they approach their peak.

Of course, their talented youngsters could always pick up a Carling Cup, and even that would be blessed relief for Wenger right now. But Arsenal were Premier League challengers a few seasons back, and Champions League finalists just six years ago.

Getting back to that level has proven difficult, and just got that much harder. Alisher Usmanov's wallet is one solution, and Arsenal shouldn't be afraid to shed the straightjacket enforced by their moral adherence to financial prudence.

The Uzbeki is willing to invest, providing money that could be used for transfers. The Gunners don't have to become Manchester City, but even a modest rise in player expenditure will give them greater chance of success.

Shutting out Usmanov doesn't make sense, it makes the board look insular, paranoid and frightened. Welcoming shrewd, sensible investment is good business and will allow Wenger - a top class manager - the freedom to add to his best players, rather than replace them.

Winning trophies doesn't come cheap. Unfortunately, Arsenal have discovered this the hard way.

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Robin Van Persie
Premier League

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