The line “I would do anything for love, but I won’t do that” comes to mind when listening to Arsene Wenger in today’s post-match press conference.
“I must say we will do anything to keep him. I cannot say much more because I have said that many times,” said the manager, who was adament he would keep Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri last summer.
When he says he will do ANYTHING, does he truly mean he would do what is surely required? To make Arsenal ambitious again? Cesc Fabregas stuck around a long time and gave us great service but was ultimately fed up of playing with the likes of Denilson, Eboue and Almunia. Nasri was obviously greedy for money, but the fact that City look in the trophy-winning business probably helped his decision as well.
Van Persie has done tremendously well to fire us to fourth this season in one of Wenger’s worst teams. He has had to rely on the erratic service of the likes of Walcott and Gervinho. If he played alongside the likes of David Silva, Andres Iniesta or Mesut Ozil who knows how many poor goals he could be scoring? And if he played in teams that didn’t so often need 3 or 4 goals to see games out due to a leaky defence then his goals might have even more significance; they might come in cup finals or title deciders. At the moment there’s no chance of that happening at the Emirates.
There is a good argument that van Persie owes us somewhat for sticking with him despite so many injury-hit years, but it would be wishful thinking to believe that would persuade him to stay. He’s 28 now and only has one FA Cup medal to his name from seven years ago. He is showing that he is one of the best strikers in the world and could have the pick of any top team. He has carried us this season and you couldn’t begrudge him for thinking he could do a little better than Arsenal.
Wenger has to learn from Fabregas’ sale in particular: these great individual players need a great team around them; they deserve better. Not everyone is content to play for fourth place every year and admire the club’s healthy bank balance.
There is supposedly a war chest at the club for a rainy day, ie if the club fail to qualify for the Champions League, but that money needs to be spent this summer on players who can lift us to somewhere better. Fourth place would be a great achievement for THIS season, but only because Wenger dismantled a good team from last year.
I hope Wenger walks the walk on this one, and truly does anything he can to keep our star striker. I hope he is truly prepared to show he knows what ‘anything’ means.