Arsene Wenger, as well as Arsenal fans, will be fretting at the prospect of losing star forward Robin van Persie this summer – though not everyone is disappointed.
The Gunners captain was instrumental to the club’s recovery from one of their worst starts to a season in decades, scoring 30 goals in the Premier League, winning the Golden Boot, and providing nine assists for team-mates to score.
That is over half of Arsenal’s goals from last season, so you can imagine why Van Persie leaving Emirates Stadium is causing one or two worried looks among those who care about the club’s fortunes.
However, the departure of the Dutchman is providing a source of optimism for one of the forgotten men in Wenger’s squad.
Marouane Chamakh has endured an 18 months to forget after a positive start at the club he joined on a free transfer from Bordeaux two summers ago, scoring a single goal last season after suffering an alarming drop in form half way through the campaign before.
As was more frequent at the time, Van Persie was struggling with injury when the Morocco international first got his pace in the team and had scored ten goals in the first three months of the season, in all competitions.
The return of Van Persie saw first-team opportunities recede and with it went Chamakh’s confidence, which he openly admitted on the club’s pre-season tour of Asia.
“Last season was difficult. We were playing with just one striker [Van Persie] and that striker was the best player in Europe. There was not a lot I could do,” he told reporters.
“I was upset because thought I could have played more but football is like that. Sometimes you do not have a chance.”
Many had assumed the 28-year-old would be heading out the door this summer, but the club have claimed there have been no bids for the striker so far.
Chamakh is ready to fight for his place if his future remains at Emirates Stadium and even sounded quite positive about the prospect of Van Persie leaving.
“I hope this season I will play more than last. I have not spoken with the manager but I will soon,” he added.
In fact, Van Persie’s departure may actually be good for the rest of the Gunners forwards.
Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski joined the club this summer, though both were considered as support for the Holland international, not replacements.
Nicklas Bendtner and Park Ju-Young also have a lot to prove, but both have been heavily linked with transfers away this summer.
Funnily enough, the Denmark international looks like leaving just before he gets the best chance yet to try and lay claim to his favoured position in the middle up front.
Van Persie was the undisputed first choice in Wenger’s attack and nobody would even countenance dropping him for anything other than a rest.
His departure would create a gap at the point of the Arsenal attack that would need to be filled, but without an automatic candidate to do so.
What the gap will do is create competition for the spot and that can only be a good thing for the squad.
Podolski is seen a as a wide player but does his best work when playing centrally, so would be keen to try and secure the role, Giroud will be keen to prove his worth as a new arrival and, as we have heard, Chamakh is desperate to put the record straight regarding his ability.
Knowing there is a chance at cementing a first XI spot that was not there before could provide the motivation for all three of these to produce their best form.
Of course, Van Persie’s immense quality means it would be more preferable to hang on to him, but contingencies need to be made and silver linings need to be found.
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