When you talk about Arsenal these days, Robin Van Persie is the only player of
any real note who is worth mentioning. Nobody
else at the club comes near him. He is a player that every club in the
Premier League would love to have. Obviously, a fair few of the major clubs in Europe
would want him if he is looking for a move.
He is a bit of class. Everything has been overtaken with
Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri leaving over the past few months, but the player Arsenal missed most when
he was out was Van Persie.
If he had been injury-free and they had kept Fabregas, they
might have achieved something this season. He has missed large portions of the past few
seasons, and he is a major miss when he is absent as his two goals against Bolton illustrated on Saturday.
He is the only player who Arsenal really must keep - critical in so many aspects to their future well-being. I think if he were to go, the board may look at the situation and decide
that an overall change is needed, because they will then realise that they cannot keep any
real quality at the club.
If potential recruits outside of the club see Van Persie leaving, they
will look at matters and decide that there is not enough quality there to
attract them to play for Arsenal. That is a fact of life.
You can't read too much into a player saying he wants to stay or leave, but Van Persie won't want to tie himself down with two years to run on his contract. Fabregas never came out and said he wanted to leave or stay.
Nasri got himself a good move with a lot of money, despite doing little in the second half of last season.
I think if Van Persie gets a
good move with a lot of money, you may start to see the decline of Arsene
Wenger and what he has tried to build at Arsenal.
Wenger's future health in the job really depends on
keeping Van Persie at the club. The fans need someone to believe in. If Wenger
loses Van Persie after losing the other two big names, then I think there is going to be a major
problem because the fans will lose faith.
There will be no faith among the squad either, about the quality of players he can't
bring in and the quality of players he can't keep. It will all have an effect on morale. That is not a good combination for a big club.
Obviously, everyone is going to be a bit disappointed at such a prospect and there would need to
be an immediate change.
Like any good business, if you can't improve the product or
even sustain the product then somebody's head has to roll and in football it
tends to be the manager. It might be Wenger and he might have to do it for the
good of the club, because it would become apparent that they can't move forward with him at the helm.
We have to look at the timing of his summer signings. Those were
panic signings at the end of a forgettable close season. Per Mertesacker has been around for years. Nobody else
was in for him and he was in a Werder Bremen team that conceded a lot of goals in the German
league last season. We know Mikel Arteta is a good player, but perhaps Arsenal should
have gone and done that deal a few years ago.
They would have got the best out of him back when Fabregas
was still around him. Could he have done any more for Everton, really? I think
Everton's Jack Rodwell would have been more of a signing of intent by Arsenal, because he
was outstanding against Manchester City on Saturday in the way he closed down David Silva, while also contributing to the team going forward. I know how difficult a role that is in midfield, because of the space that has to be covered.
If you look at Arsenal, you see that it badly needs restocking. Wenger is still trying to do
the same thing with the same personnel, but the players he has now are not nearly as
good as the quality he had before.
I think it is going to be very difficult for him to get
anywhere near where he wants to be this season. If he wants to win anything, it
is not going to be this season. Not with the players he has at the moment.