Robin van Persie is the back-to-back Golden Boot winner of the Premier League. He was arguably the difference between Manchester United and their City rivals last season. So any suggestion that he’s overrated will leave people thinking I’m mad.
Well actually no, no I'm not. Van Persie is not as good as people say he is and is drawing a lot more attention and praise than he deserves. There is no doubt the lad has a good technique and can strike a ball but I feel that his involvement in being labelled as one of the world's best strikers is unjustified.
Van Persie has a lot going for him. He is scoring regular goals for one of the best teams in the world and is an integral part in the way his national side, runners up in the FIFA 2010 World Cup, play. But his prowess resonates more in what he does on a personal level in the Premier League, especially in the last two seasons.
Which brings me onto my first point. Van Persie was at Arsenal for eight seasons. He made 278 appearances for the club in which he found the net 132 times. Don't get me wrong this is a good, maybe even great, goals per game ratio but is it up there with the best of the world?
If we look at the goal scoring records of those widely considered the best forwards in the game then we see to what extent Van Persie falls short.
Messi has a goal ratio of 0.82 goals a game for Barcelona in over 300 appearances, Ronaldo has 200 goals in 197 games for Madrid, more than a goal a game, and Falcao, in the last five seasons, has a goal ratio of 0.84 goals every game.
These are the top players in the world, and Van Persie's comparatively meagre 0.52 goals a game (including his time at Manchester United) ratio shows he does not belong with the best in the world.
True, he has hit form in the last two seasons, and only the last two, but doesn't this show another aspect of his character? How can we rank him amongst the best when he has spent nine of his 11 seasons as a player with an abundance of potential but unable to fulfil it?
Now, some of you will point back to the numerous injuries he sustained as a young player and how they hindered his impending success or the potential he had.
This is also true, of course they hindered him but to be considered the best, you simply can't afford to be injured. Take a look at the unfortunate demise of Michael Owen, once lauded as the best player in the world when he announced himself as a sprightly 18 year old.
Then came a couple of injuries and he was never back to his previous form. Another example that springs to mind is that of Nemanja Vidic. Injuries have reduced his game time at Old Trafford to such an extent that he is no longer considered as the best in the world as he once was.
It may be a little harsh to dwell on something as unpredictable as injuries but due to these Van Persie can't be considered a great. At any moment he may be out for 10 months which is something neither a team nor the man himself can afford.
Van Persie arrived at the Emirates with quite an attitude. Van Marwijk, his manager before Wenger, told reporters that "his behaviour made it impossible for him to stay in the squad.” Let this 'attitude' take nothing away from his performances on the pitch as they are, at times, truly exceptional but it is true that bad behaviour or attitude does have a negative effect on the club.
If there is a tension between a player and manager then it will spread to the rest of the changing room as is so elegantly put in the 'rotten apple' analogy. Take a look at Mancini who was ultimately fired for his inability to deal with Balotelli.
Another example is Sir Alex Ferguson who was so successful because he had the ideal that no player is bigger than the club. Van Persie is no exception and his tenure at the start of Arsenal career marred his potential success because he was unable to listen to the manager and thus unable to improve.
Van Persie is essentially a glorified Jermain Defoe. He can shoot very well. In this regard he is certainly up there with the very best. But does he have great vision? No. Does he have great pace? No. Can he go past a man? No.
Van Persie lacks all of the above to be a truly great striker. He has done very well considering he is lacking in all of the above but without great pace or the ability to round a man he is sufficiently defunct in being considered as one of the world's greatest strikers.
Also the best forwards in the world cannot afford to have bad patches. Although he was the Premier League's top scorer this season with 26 goals he did have a run of 11 hours and 24 minute without scoring - something a truly great player can't afford to have.
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