Robin Van Persie has been the main topic for discussion and the club's top scorer has been in the news discussing his future with Arsenal and whether or not he will sign a new contract. The main reason he hasn't signed is because he doesn't believe Arsenal's ambitions match that of his own. Words that players like Henry and Vieira have previously muttered and words that ring in my ears like Big Ben's bells. The problem is not that Van Persie has said what he's said - the problem is, he may have a valid point (ish).
Last summer, the big name departures of Flamini, Gilberto and Hleb were replaced only by Nasri. Yes, some young and fringe players were also bought, Bischoff and Ramsey, Coquelin and Silvestre. When Henry departed the year before, he wasn't replaced. The fact we've let such players as Vieira, Hleb, Henry all leave does raise eye brows. Yes, of course I know we've got a stadium debt, but does that mean we have to live in a state of mediocrity?
Let's take a look at what Van Persie had to say:
“I’m still in negotiations with Arsenal, and it’s going well – in a very positive atmosphere. There are further meetings planned. Financially Arsenal’s last offer is fine, but that isn’t everything for me. It’s about my ambitions and how they can be fulfilled.
“The club and I want the same, and it’s our intention to achieve that. We have all the other factors in place – fantastic stadium, dedicated support and money in the bank. Now it’s about making that final push. In the last four years, I’ve only won one prize, the FA Cup – and that is too little. I want to push through to achieve more. That is something I feel in my mind and my body. It’s difficult to explain, but I certainly feel I can play an important role in taking Arsenal to a higher level.”
And his words are testimony to his stature at the club. He want to play an important role and he wants to take us to another level – but at the same time, he does say he hasn’t won anything for a while and does say “it’s about my ambitions” – mixed signals from the Dutchmen – I think we can take it from this statement, he doesn’t want to leave – but was assurances from the boss that next season we’ll be challenging. If that means we have to buy a player or two, then it means we have to buy a player or two. If that means we keep a player who wants to leave, then we should keep him. It’s hard to give assurances, because everyone knows that it’s Arsene intention to finish as high as possible. The boss does think that he has the squad to win the title.
In all fairness, the development of players like Song, Denilson and Diaby does bode very well for next season, but what is the clincher? What does Arsene have to do to really get somewhere next season, do we need someone else to come in to make a difference or was Arshavin the final piece of the jigsaw?
“I believe the wild days are behind you when you reach 25. From this age on, you should be reaping the rewards of what you’ve learned. After seven years in professional football, I now have what I need to go further. I’ve heard and seen enough – it’s as if I’ve crossed a barrier. I see players between 25 and 30 having their best years. In a certain sense, it feels like a voyage of discovery – and I feel I’m where I want to be as a footballer. This also applies to physical development. Now, I can play out matches a lot easier.”
And we’ve seen Van Persie really shine this season, no doubt he is class. And no doubt, the best of him is to come.
Personally, the signing of Arshavin has proved that we’ve got the ambitions we need. Prior to this, the acquisition of Nasri and Ramsey were for rather large sums. And maybe it is just our injury crisis that turned us into a team challenging for fourth…
In response to Van Persie’s comments and those of Cesc’s future, chief exec, Ivan Gazidis said:
“It’s not good enough for us to be in fourth place, we have to be competing for the Premier League title. I think there are a variety of reasons we are in fourth place but it’s not the level of our ambition – not the level of Arsene Wenger’s, the board’s or my ambition. Arsene believes he is developing a superb team of young players who can compete for the Premier League for many years to come.”
And specifically on Cesc’s future, he continued:
“I can’t marry the stories that I read with the reality, which is that Cesc is extremely happy at Arsenal and totally committed to the club, and that’s every message that (manager) Arsene Wenger or I have ever received from him or his representatives. I am very confident that Cesc is committed to the club. You never relax about any situation but we are very confident that this team will stay together, progress together and achieve success together. The young players that we have and the manager we have believe we are doing something very special here.”
I do feel reassured by Gazidis. The players coming through – the Merida’s, Wilshere’s, Gibbs et al are very exciting. But something to consider, was that even with our full team out, against the likes of Fulham and Hull, our performances weren’t good enough… is the missing element still that elusive defensive midfielder… or have Song, Densilson and Diaby finally come of age?
Answers on a postcard….
Finally, Van Persie, Bendtner, Diaby and Walcott are all very much likely to miss this weekend’s game with Man City – but on the flip side, Cesc and Ade should be back and Eduardo should be able to play, and of course, Nasri and Arshavin are fit as far as reports tell me…
All that leaves me to say is “Come on England…”…