Sunday, 3 June 2012

Does RVP not rate four team-mates? -£10m striker scouted -AOC's England debut

Morning Gooners.

Where better than to start today than with man of the season Robin van Persie. The Arsenal captain scored two as Holland beat Northern Ireland in their final friendly last night before Euro 2012.

It seems that he's taken his Arsenal scoring boots with him. Let's hope he can keep up this form for the Dutch as it would be great to see him play in another final.

While he keeps scoring the questions about his contract situation with the Gunners rumble on. Nothing has been agreed. Both Robin and Arsenal have said they won't talk publically about the situation. So we are left with a void where both the club and Robin's people are trying to shape the dialogue about his future.

One of the big concerns Arsenal have is handing a big contract to a player who has only played 49 per cent of the club's Premier League games in the last eight years (OPTA stat). Many of his chances to play have been lost to injury and it is only in the past 18 months that he has consistently started for the Gunners.

Another concern related to his previous injury problems is his age. He'll be 29 in August and handing a four year deal to a player who was injury prone with basically one standout season at the club doesn't seem like good business.

Robin is keen to point out at every opportunity that he's not that injured player he once was.

In today's Sunday Mirror he said:
"Stats don’t tell you the whole story, but it does prove my fitness at Arsenal and in the Premier League. I feel fitter than ever before. I don’t need time to recover either after a match."
Will we see Robin ever again had a season like he's just had for Arsenal scoring 37 goals in 48 appearances for the club. He's not been able to do it on a consistent basis before, so where is the evidence he'll be able to do it again?

Robin is a fantastic player and one I'd love to see stay at the club for the rest of his career. However the deal has to be right for the club first and Robin second. Arsenal will still be around for many years after Robin has retired. But that doesn't mean the club should be foolhardy and hand a huge contract to a player who has had one quite remarkable season out of eight he's been at the club.

One of the things which Robin's camp are keen for everyone to know about during these protracted contract negotiations is his ambition to win trophies. We all know he's just got one FA Cup winners medal from the last time we won something in 2005.

But one of the reasons we've not won anything is down to players like Robin - our star performers - being out for long times during the season  Perhaps we would have won the league championship if Robin had been fit for the whole of the 2007-8 season when he only started 13 games and scored seven goals in the league.

There was an interesting piece which appeared in the Financial Times yesterday by Robin's friend Henk Spaan. As well as being close to the van Persie camp, Spann is a football columnist, television presenter and editor of Dutch football magazine “Hard Gras”.

One of the more interesting insights was what Spaan thought of Robin's team mates at Arsenal.

Spann wrote:
"Arsenal’s recent signings have not convinced. Andrey Arshavin was expensive, inefficient and unpopular in the dressing room, Marouane Chamakh a mistake, Gervinho inadequate for the Premier League. And manager Arsène Wenger’s protection of the young midfielder Aaron Ramsey, with his deficient view of the game and meagre statistics (only two goals and four assists all season), doesn’t help much either."
Now you would have thought that Spann would have been influenced with Robin's personal insight into his team mates before forming his own view on them. As far as I'm aware Arshavin wasn't unpopular in the dressing room, you can't describe Chamakh as a mistake nor can you say Gervinho is inadequate for the Premier League - he's in his first season, interrupted by the Africa Cup of Nations.

As for the character assassination of Aaron Ramsey, a young player with plenty of potential but who was clearly suffering from fatigue at the end of his first full season as a professional, I find it astonishing.

Is this really what van Persie thinks about his team mates? If so, I think he's being very harsh on them.

One of the issues van Persie raised with Arsene Wenger when the pair meet the week after the end of the season was the Frenchman's recruitment policy. As previously revealed on this blog, van Persie was keen for international team mate Rafael van der Vaart to join him at Arsenal. But Wenger decided against signing the midfielder. This was one of the deals the pair clashed about during their talks.

Arsenal have to go about their transfer business in the way which is best for them. The signing of Lukas Podolski is a great start. He'll take away some of the pressure Robin was feeling about the goal scoring burden last season. And it's clear the manager wants to do more business before the summer is out, no matter what he tells the media about it being a quiet summer at the club.

Yann M'Vila is top of that list. The club will try and conclude a deal for the Frenchman after the Euros. But there are back up options if Wenger can't get his man. The signings we make this summer are more about what is best for Arsenal's long term future rather than what is best to persuade van Persie to stay at the club beyond the end of his contract.

Arsene Wenger has hardly ever signed household names during his time at the club. I can't see that policy changing this summer just to satisfy van Persie. One of the players exactly in the Wenger mould is 18-year-old striker Nick Powell, who is on the Frenchman's radar according to the Sunday Mirror.

Elsewhere, Alex Oxlade Chamberlain played for England last night and Henry Winter of the Sunday Telegraph has written about his first start for his country. And if you want to know more about The Ox's sporting prowess, there is a piece in the Sunday Express about his development as a youngster.

That's it for today. More tomorrow.

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