The move of Robin van Persie from Arsenal to Manchester United in 2012 caused a lot of pain an anger among the Gunners’ supporters. Arsene Wenger reveals in his new book “My Life in Red and White”, that a lot of the blame was laid at his door.
Van Persie arrived to north London from Feyenoord in 2004, and in the eight years he wore the shirt, he scored 132 goals and laid on 59 assists in 278 appearances for Arsenal in all competitions. As Wenger explains, he was contracted to the club until 2013, but a year before the expiration date he made it clear he would not sign a new one – the club simply couldn’t match the offers he had on the table from numerous suitors. In the end, he went to Old Trafford for £24 million, which was, as Wenger rightly points out, an excellent price for a player with less than a year on his contract back then.
The Dutchman won the Premier League in the first season at his new club, the last league title United have won to this day, in the last season of Sir Alex Ferguson at the helm. However, after three of the four years of his contract there had passed, Van Persie picked up an injury and ended up sold to Fenerbahce. Just before his move to Turkey had been agreed, he apparently contacted Wenger to see if there was a chance of a return to Arsenal.
There wasn’t. The fact of the matter was, Van Persie had stepped well into his declining years by then, and the club were focusing their investments on young players. There was simply no room for the man whose tremendous skill and spectacular goals used to please the Gunners faithful for so long before his departure.
Was Wenger right not to allow Robin van Persie a sentimental return in 2015?