It’s the question STILL on every Arsenal fan’s lips as the summer drags on: Will Robin van Persie stay with the Gunners? I have always thought he will commit to a new deal at the Emirates and I feel slightly more confident in that belief having perused Arsene Wenger’s latest assessment of the Dutchman and his contribution to Holland’s failed Euro2012 challenge.
The expectation on RVP going into the tournament was huge given the amazing season he had with Arsenal but like many of his fellow countrymen, he didn’t quite deliver the displays we know he has in him. Holland failed to make the knockout stages and pundits and supporters alike gave the team and RVP massive stick for their pretty lame efforts at the finals in Poland and Ukraine.
Here is where it gets interesting. Wenger has come out and defended RVP and I can’t help but think: Why would he do that if he were leaving? OK, there is an argument that he may well be sucking up to him in an effort to persuade him to put pen to paper on a new deal with moneybags Manchester City said to be circling.
Or you might say he is bigging him up knowing he is on his bike and merely trying to hike the price by exaggerating his importance. Really? Wenger is a shrewd man I will give you that, but he has bags of integrity and that is not his style.
Here’s what he said about RVP: “Robin deserves more credit in Holland than he gets. I think he was still the best striker at the European Championships. I watched all his games. If you look at the runs he made, his passing, everything really, was very good.
“He did not take some of his chances but that was down to tiredness. Robin is a class above other strikers. A class above Klaas-Jan Huntelaar. Robin is not just a great striker or a great player, he is an exceptional player.
“He did not have to prove himself here. I can understand he wanted to prove he can score goals for Holland. That is an obvious ambition because he is so intense, he loves the game so much.”
Wenger goes on to cite the pressure players face in the modern game as a reason for unrealistic expectations not being met. He added: “This is caused by the society we are living in. The speed of mass media, social media and internet creates a situation where incidents or things are spread within five minutes to millions. And it leads to opinions from millions of people.
“Players and coaches are under so much more pressure. The emotion has taken over analysis. Players are fighting for their place in the team under this pressure and they care more about themselves than about the team. Twenty years ago there was a ‘we’ culture, now there is the ‘me’ culture.”
Of course, we have far more assertive comments from Wenger on which to base some confidence that the Dutch dazzler will remain in north London and in so doing he has ruled out RVP going to Juventus.
Speaking to Italian newspaper Corriere Dello Sport, Wenger said: “I am certain that Robin will remain with us. If you want to know why I am so certain is that Robin will remain with us is because there is no reason in this world why a great player like van Persie should go and play for you, in Italy and in your competition. Your football in Serie A is at an inferior level to the Premier League.”
Nothing like laying it on the line, eh, Arsene?
I interviewed Bolo Zenden last week, a one-time international team-mate of RVP and asked him about his thoughts on the matter. He said that although he recognised RVP loved Arsenal and life in London he also had a desire to look back at the end of his career and be able to lay his medals on the table.
Zenden added that the most worrying aspect for Gooners was that RVP had remained silent on the matter.
Unfortunately, until he loosens his lips, we will still be in a limbo and those fears that he will walk away remain. The time is right for him to break his silence – Arsenal fans deserve to know what’s going on.
CARL ELDRIDGE on Twitter @eldomedia