The Premier League is just a few days away and, much to the dismay of Arsenal supporters, their talisman from last season, Robin van Persie, has opted to leave the club and join a more successful one, where he thinks he has a better chance of winning trophies. Van Persie left the North London club on Wednesday night to join Manchester United for a tidy sum of £23 million.
As transfers go, this was one of the bigger ones. Not because of how much money is was paid for Van Persie, but because of the emotional investment Arsenal fans have in a player who spent most of his career on the injury table. The Dutchman’s contract was up in twelve months, and while everybody believed that he would stick around as Arsenal are starting to sign some players people have actually heard of before, he’s now been carted off to another Premier League team, after he had previously vowed he would never do such a thing.
For most, it’s an outrage, but in the greater scheme of things, it’s good strategy on Arsenal’s part. Van Persie has had one good season, a really, really good season, but it’s been just one good one. That he is an incredibly talented player there is no disputing, but he is also incredibly prone to injury and he has spent the largest part of his career on the treatment table, becoming a liability – one that Arsenal could do without if they wanted to progress forward.
Arsene Wenger has faith in Arsenal’s new recruits, though, and insisted that Arsenal had no choice. They didn’t, really. When players are on form, they want to measure their success with silverware, and he hasn’t had that with Arsenal. The North London club had tried to negotiate with Van Persie and even promised him a whopping wage package, but they cannot promise him silverware – something which United can offer.
“We have already replaced him in buying [Lukas] Podolski and [Olivier] Giroud. We are sad to lose a player of his quality, but he had one year left on his contract so we had no choice,” said Wenger.
There is also the small issue of his contract running out, and his being allowed to leave on a free transfer at the end of it – why would anybody with a good sense of business allow for such a thing to happen? It’s great business on Arsenal’s part. Perhaps not as good as Newcastle’s business of selling Andy Carroll to Liverpool, but a good piece of business nonetheless.
While soccer shouldn’t be about money and good business decisions, the Premier League has become that. There is no way to sugar-coat it. Bored billionaires buy clubs and splash cash without thinking twice; that’s what the League has become.
There is very little romance left in the Premier League. Once in a while Papiss Cissémight net a magnificent goal which takes your breath away, or millions might rally around Fabrice Muamba as he fights for his life in the middle of a soccer match, but in its essence, the old spirit of the Premier League is non-existent.
It’s all cold cash and cold hearts, and the sooner fans learn to emotionally distance themselves from players who come and go through its revolving doors, the easier it’ll be to accept that it’s all just business, baby. And then the League will finally be taken at face value for what it really is: the best reality show on the idiot box. DM
Photo: Arsenal’s Robin Van Persie reacts during their English Premier League soccer match against Bolton Wanderers at the Reebok Stadium in Bolton, northern England, February 1, 2012. REUTERS/Phil Noble
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