There’s no doubt that Arsenal striker Robin van Persie didn’t live up to most people’s expectations at Euro 2012. In fact, nobody on the Dutch team had a performance they could write home about. But he certainly isn’t the first football star to have a mediocre major tournament and he definitely won’t be the last. Van Persie wasn’t a complete bust, though, as he managed to score Holland’s goal in their 2-1 loss to Germany.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger stuck up for his player by making the odd statement that van Persie was the best striker in the tournament. That’s probably going a little bit too far when you consider Germany’s Mario Gomez has three goals along with a few other players and even Fernando Torres, Nicklas Bendtner, and Andriy Shevchenko had a pair each.
Wenger told the press that the 28-year-old Premier League Golden Boot winner doesn’t get the credit he deserves from Dutch fans and he’s a lot better than his teammate, the German Golden Boot winner, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and strikers from other nations. The manager stated there are two types of strikers in football - those who play in the box like a true centre forward and bury their chances and strikers who are more complete footballers, such as van Persie and France’s Karim Benzema.
You can argue with Wenger’s comments or support them, but if van Persie’s job with Holland was to put the ball in the net, then you can say he didn’t have a very good tournament with his team losing all three games. Wenger went on to say that he studied Van Persie’s play in the group stage and he made a lot of excellent runs and played well technically.
That may be true, but he hit the back of the net just once even though he created or was set up for numerous chances. ESPN statistics show that van Persie took 13 shots at net with seven of them hitting the target. He committed four fouls and had four committed against him and never strayed offside once.
Wenger believes van Persie is a good role model for strikers and should be judged more as a complete footballer instead of how many goals he scores. Of course, he does well in that department more often than not, with 30 league goals and 37 overall last season. Wenger said he thinks van Persie plays better for his club than he does for his country because of everything around him. However, he didn’t really explain what he meant by that statement. He has 29 goals in 68 matches with Holland and 154 in 356 club games with the Gunners and Feyenoord.
If most football people feel van Persie had a poor Euro tournament though, it could actually be a blessing in disguise for Wenger. This is simply because the striker’s value may have gone down in some people’s eyes. It’s nonsensical to try and keep up with all of the daily rumours concerning the player and it’s more or less turned into nothing more than a circus or soap opera. But it’s agreed on by most people that Manchester City is extremely interested in van Persie.
If they weren’t impressed by his Euro performance though, they may back off a little in their pursuit of him and rethink the situation. It’s possible that they won’t be as gung-ho as before when it comes to putting in a transfer bid for van Persie. This could work in Arsenal’s favour if teams lose interest. Of course, it could also hurt the club if van Persie is intent on leaving and the offers for him are suddenly reduced.
Arsenal is in a sticky situation since the striker could simply walk away at the end of next season for nothing, or they could sell him for the best offer, which may not be as high as it was before Euro 2012 began. Whatever happens with van Persie though will affect other forwards at the club because Wenger won’t know if the Dutchman needs to be replaced or not. This means players such as Marouane Chamakh’s Arsenal future depends on van Persie’s decision. Van Persie’s Euro showing shouldn’t be a concern for Arsenal, but hopefully it will be for those who were interested in him.