When a football player remains silent for weeks or even months on end about his future at a specific football club, you know there’s a good chance he’s not quite happy with his situation. When Robin van Persie announced he wasn’t going to re-sign with Arsenal it shouldn’t have surprised anybody. It doesn’t take that long to make up your mind if you want to stay. A player who is happy will commit to his club quickly.
It’s another typical football soap opera, much like the Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri situations. There’s barely an honest word that comes out of the mouth of football players, managers and agents when it comes to contracts, negotiations and transfers. It’s bad enough that we get blatant lies from these people, but the press just makes it worse by printing their fairy tales hour after hour.
Reading about van Persie or any other player staying or leaving is a complete waste of time until an official statement is made one way or the other, which is what we got on July 4. It’s all pure speculation. The fact is the Dutch striker will either play out his last season with the Gunners or he’ll be sold by the club. Van Persie didn’t really give any specific reasons regarding his decision other than to say he wants to win trophies, and that’s up to him.
However, he did say that after meeting with manager Arsene Wenger and club owners that they didn’t see eye-to-eye on the direction the club is taking. Until he clarifies those statements they’re anybody’s guess. Perhaps he’s sick and tired of playing for a team that hasn’t won anything other than an FA Cup back in 2005 and the Golden Boot last season with his 30 league goals.
Where he ends up is speculation, with most people leaning towards Manchester City. He did say money wasn’t a factor though, so we’ll see if that turns out to be true. The decision was his to make, and while there will be millions of supporters who don’t agree with it, that’s life. The only criticism he may deserve is that he simply didn’t let the club know sooner since it’s obvious he came to this decision quite some time ago. Stringing the supporters and club along wasn’t appreciated by most.
With van Persie eventually heading out of town, Gunner fans may now look upon Theo Walcott to be a key player. Since he’s in a similar position as the captain with a year to go on his current contract, he could very well be the next to hightail it out of the Emirates. Some supporters might not be able to wait to see the back of him, while others appreciate what he brings to the team.
Walcott could see van Persie’s departure as a chance for him to shine, or he may feel the club’s chances of winning any silverware in the near future have taken a severe dent. The winger’s contribution to the team last year wasn’t too shabby by scoring 11 goals overall and setting up 13 others, many of those being van Persie tallies.
He’s still only 23 years old and seems to be improving each year. However, after six seasons in London he could also feel it’s time to move on with his career. He proved at the recent Euro 2012 tournament that he’s got the talent to play with the best in Europe and he may just need a bit more confidence to become a major force.
Walcott has the speed to fly by defenders while his crossing and shooting skills aren’t bad at all. If he decides to turn down a contract offer from Arsenal, if and when he’s offered one, most of the team’s supporters are going to be disappointed that another star player has flown the coop. If it does happen, Wenger can be thankful that he added Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud to the squad and still has Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Losing van Persie and Walcott would be a trade off with the new additions and the club won’t be any stronger.
It’ll be interesting to see how the Gunners react to van Persie’s situation with its stance on Walcott. Perhaps they’ll try harder to convince him to stay or the recent happenings might not affect their plans with Walcott at all. With the new signings as well as Park-Chu-Young, Ryo Miyaichi and Joel Campbell all waiting in the wings, they may decide to treat him the same as they would if van Persie was staying. But we still don’t know what that is.
However, if Arsenal does try to sign Walcott to an extension, he’s definitely in a stronger bargaining position at the moment knowing the team’s captain and leading scorer is jumping ship. If Walcott decides to test the waters elsewhere, there should be quite a few clubs interested in his services, including possibly Liverpool and Chelsea.