He becomes the latest in a long line of key players that leave Arsenal, but should we blame him for reaching this decision?
Since joining the club in 2004 he has seen many great players leave for pastures new. Whilst no footballer is bigger than the club itself, with every player that has left, Arsenal has slowly declined from title contender to a team content with a top 4 finish.
Although RVP enjoyed success in his first season, Arsenal has now gone 7 years without a trophy. Hence, it is no surprise that many top players at the club ponder their future. So even though they have all become an integral part of the Arsenal ‘family,’ their main desire will always be to win silverware.
What seems to have been ignored is that winning is a habit. Picking up your first trophy, irrespective of the competition would help add some momentum to any club with the strong financial position that Arsenal find themselves in.
This being considered, Arsenal’s regard of the League Cup as an opportunity to give first team experience to their younger players is a poor decision.
While this is a good idea to implement when a team has a strong and successful first team squad, it is not the right stance given the situation they are currently in. By taking this approach, Wenger rules out the only chance Arsenal currently have of winning a trophy.
It seemed Wenger had realised this in 2011. Members of the first team squad featured throughout the competition and so it was no surprise that Arsenal made it to the final. Unfortunately though, it wasn’t to be their year.
While the fans will not mind about missing out on the League Cup, his decision to revert back to his old policy after losing the 2011 final was not only disappointing but symptomatic of the problems holding back the club.
Wenger has always been a manager who prefers buying and developing young talent and if need be, sell at a significant profit. While this worked masterfully at the start of his tenure, what we must remember it was built on the experience and leadership of Arsenal’s back five.
It goes without saying that having a solid defence is critical to being a contender for the Premier League title. So whether it is a matter of stubbornness or blind faith in the potential of his current crop of defenders, the losses of key figures such as Ashley Cole, Jens Lehman and Sol Campbell have never been fully addressed.
The lack of top class talent in Arsenal’s defence has been a glaring weakness for several seasons, but Wenger could put forth the argument that the first team experience has been invaluable to the development of players such as Laurent Koscielny and Wojciech Szczesny.
While admittedly they are starting to emerge as top players who have had a fair share of match winning performances, they have also been involved in several clangers, most notably in the 2011 Carling Cup Final.
The concern however isn’t these mistakes, but rather the lack of genuine competition for their places. Without this, Arsenal left themselves exposed in what is simply their weakest third of the pitch.
However, it isn’t the only area where Wenger has been insistent in finding and showing faith in young players. Even though this approach has helped him unearth a few gems in the past, he currently finds himself with a stockpile of players such as Denilson, Vela and Bendtner who have proven they are not to be good enough to be at Arsenal FC.
While this has been Arsene’s primary approach in the transfer market, he has also made a few attempts to address the lack of experience, most of which of which have not paid off.
This for the most part is due to him targeting value rather than ability. Particular examples that stand out are Squillaci, who was never going to push for a place in the first XI, and Chamakh whose strengths were never a fit for Arsenal’s fast-paced ‘on-the-deck’ style of football.
There have also been a few top players, such has Andrey Arshavin, who have started well and then fallen out of favour. Many could attribute this to him being played out of position but there seemed to be a considerable decline in the effort he was reflecting on the pitch.
Whatever the reason for this may have been, the decision to drop him and send him on loan was the right one, but it came later than it should have.
Therein lays the biggest problem of them all. Moves that have been made at Arsenal football club have usually come too late. They are often ill prepared to deal with the loss of a key player and when a move has been made it occurs too late.
The situations relating to the loss of several big names could have been dealt with if a suitable replacement had been targetted rather than praying for a change of mind and then panic buying on the last day of the transfer window, much like Arsenal did at the start of last season.
However, it seems that Arsenal may have turned over a new leaf with the early signings of Podolski and Giroud. Yet I still find it difficult to believe that Wenger will sign many more big names given the support he has shown his current squad over the past season and if anything, van Persie’s comments re-affirm my feeling on this.
All things considered, after 8 years with the club, van Persie’s decision not to sign a new deal seems a fair one. He has remained patient while a number of top calibre players have moved on and so it seems only fair that at this stage of his career that he gets the same opportunity to go and win trophies elsewhere.
image: © wonker