Fresh reports have revealed that Turkish giants Fenerbahce are in contact with Robin van Persie’s representatives over a potential transfer at the end of the season. The Manchester United striker is reportedly disillusioned with life at Old Trafford and is ready to consider leaving the Premier League giants.
Twelve months ago, this would have been catastrophic news for the Red Devils. After all, Van Persie was still widely regarded as one of Europe’s best strikers, having virtually wrapped up the Premier League title single-handedly in the previous campaign.
But things have changed since then. Van Persie is now a player in steep decline, and any reasonable offer from an interested club must be seriously considered by Louis van Gaal.
Van Gaal's Van Persie dilemma
The current United boss finds himself in an awkward situation with regards to Van Persie. The two men became good friends during their time working together with the Netherlands national team after Van Gaal appointed the former Arsenal star as the Oranje’s new permanent captain.
Van Persie could not have been more enthusiastic about the prospect of Van Gaal coming to Old Trafford to replace the sacked David Moyes, but the striker’s career has not exactly been rejuvenated over the past few months.
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Van Persie: No longer top class
Former Manchester United captain Gary Neville defended Van Persie’s poor start to the season on Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football last night. He pointed to a number of examples during Sunday’s Manchester derby of Van Persie making his trademark runs but not being spotted by his teammates.
However, Neville - the current England coach - conceded that Van Persie was not doing enough to get himself into space. He then showed the movement of Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero, arguably the best centre-forward in the Premier League this season, and frankly there was no comparison.
In one set of clips we saw a genuine world-class striker, full of confidence, with pace, power and deadly accuracy inside the penalty area. And in the others we witnessed an out-of-sorts, grey-haired forward whose best days look well behind him.
Van Persie repaid transfer fee in 2013
Manchester United knew when they paid £24 million for Van Persie in the summer of 2012 this wasn’t a signing for the future. The Dutchman helped the Red Devils lift the Premier League title in Sir Alex Ferguson’s final season at Old Trafford, and that was effectively job done. Van Persie had repaid his transfer fee in the space of 10 months.
But come the end of the season, it’ll be time for Manchester United and Van Persie to part company.
The Red Devils already have Wayne Rooney, while Radamel Falcao may have signed a permanent contract with the Red Devils depending on how his season goes. Then there’s James Wilson, the hugely promising 18-year-old striker, and Javier Hernandez, who Van Gaal may opt to keep if he continues scoring goals on a regular basis for loan club Real Madrid this season.
Van Persie will not get into Manchester United’s starting line-up next season - and he’s not the type of player who’ll be happy watching on from the substitutes’ bench.
At 31, it’s surprising that Van Persie’s decline has happened so soon - but it’s not something Van Gaal can ignore.
Van Persie will always remain a fan favourite at Old Trafford because of his remarkable exploits during the 2012-13 campaign. But keeping him at the club will only conspire to do two things: hinder Manchester United, and tarnish Van Persie’s legacy.