Robin van Persie darted his head around, showering people with gel. His eyes went wide as he agreed to march onward to his first pre-season training matches for his club, being prepared to look behind him the entire time. He stares in the other direction, hoping that some team will notice him, remember that he’s still on Arsenal F.C., the team of perpetual save-my-money-because-our-board-likes-to-rob-us. He hopes he can be a part of that championship team, the Manchester Citys, the Manchester Uniteds, and yes, even the Juventuses. While he’s doing this start-and-go movement, these clubs and more will prove to be at least somewhat prudent buyers – if they don’t take the risk on RVP.
Van Persie’s breakout 2011-2012 campaign was magnificent to behold. He smashed in more goals than anyone in the Barclays Premier League since the 2007-2008 season when Cristiano Ronaldo netted 31 – this in the EPL season that saw the most goals ever. He scored a hat trick against the stingiest defensive team in the league, Chelsea F.C.; he was Arsenal’s most prolific European goal scorer; and he almost single-handedly raised his team from 17th to 3rd place in the final EPL standings. He had a season that put him in discussion with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo as the top player of the year (he wasn’t even close to the 50 and 46 league goals scored by Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo respectively, but still, he did pretty well in a league that’s more balanced than La Liga can even dream of being).
Van Persie speculates he’s worth at least 25 million pounds to skirt away from Arsenal, and he certainly is one of the better strikers in the world when he plays. A starter for the Dutch national team, one of the superlative teams on Earth, RVP has a wolf eye centered on team’s defenses. He knows when to make the short movement to break through a defense and can shoot off-balance, wrong-footed, and covered by multiple defenders. He may not have Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo-like speed, but he makes up for this deficiency with all his other strengths. Adding onto his buy appeal is the fact that he scored 37 goals in all competitions with a team that lacks excellent passers. He doesn’t have supporters like Xavi, Andrés Iniesta, or Mesut Özil to easily slot in goal chances like Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo do. Robin van Persie explodes on offense essentially alone.
However, the risk is not worth the dividends.
Van Persie is no fluke of a player, but he won’t be on a soccer pitch long enough to reap in the worth of hundreds of thousands of pounds a week Juventus, Man City, or Man U want to pay him. Van Persie has a long record of injuries that should dispirit even the hungriest and dim-witted behemoth clubs from purchasing him. A broken toe in 2006; an injured fifth metatarsal in 2007; a knee injury that took him out from October to December 2007; out for five months due to an ankle injury in 2009 that required surgery to repair the ligaments. The register becomes grislier and more concerning as you scan it (or read it, in the case of this article). His injuries have always been constant. Arsène Wenger may have gotten van Persie for a paltry price in 2004, but even he must know the worth of RVP is not very substantial. Wenger acquires young footballers most teams overlook, harvests their benefits for a few years, and then ships them off when their career is in decline. Just ask Thierry Henry.
Van Persie is already 28 and players begin to break down around age 30. He’s a leader, yes, and has experience in one of the best leagues on Earth, but the idiocy in buying him for hundreds of thousands of pounds a week is too incongruous to be logical. Buying van Persie at age 28 is like buying Albert Pujols to a ten-year deal at age 32 – oh wait, that imbecile purchase already happened! A five-year deal for RVP, a man who suffers at least one injury every season, means any club that procures him will probably only get about a year or two of real playing time out of him. A year or two for north of 20 million pounds; that’s more money than Cristiano Ronaldo burns through in a season. He was fantastic this past season for the Gunners, yes, but that was only his first season to go without injury since he joined the EPL.
Maybe van Persie knows he’s not that worthwhile. Maybe he knows he’s a liability to leave the football pitch every year. Perhaps that’s why he wants to move to a big, super-spending club that will take him on, even though the signs scream, “Think for a moment how much your wallet will cry!” He desires trophies, and he’s correct in believing Arsenal isn’t the place to stay to win titles. So perhaps he wants to move to a large, dim-witted club where he can steal trophies while sitting in a hospital bed half the time.
In the meantime, if these behemoth clubs with colossal wallets really want to make profits (or accrue fewer losses, since the major clubs in the world don’t know how to make profits) then they should take a leaf out of Wenger’s notebook and pass on the Dutchman. A 30-plus goal scorer is tantalizing, but come on, it’s not even like he’s an 18-year old Mesut Özil who automatically becomes the quarterback for whatever football team he’s on. Van Persie is only one scorer when he’s on the field who will never pan out to a full rate of 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70 – however many millions a team will shell out for his transfer fee. After all, if Roman Abramovich hasn’t bought him yet, then you know there’s something wrong with the value of Robin van Persie.