“Arsenal have handled the Van Persie situation appallingly”
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times at the Emirates. Arsène Wenger must be used to this by now – another summer, another one of his star players wants to leave. Wenger has brought Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud to Arsenal, signed Laurent Koscielny to a new contract and is preparing to welcome Jack Wilshere and Abou Diaby back from injury. But with Robin van Persie demanding a move away from Arsenal, there is still a sense of dread pervading the club. The Life’s a Pitch panel considers where Van Persie will end up and who Wenger may still try to bring in.
“It’s just situation normal at Arsenal,” says journalist and author Ian Ridley. “Every summer there’s a big-name player who wants out of the club. They’ve been going through this ever since they won their last trophy and I don’t think there’s any coincidence in that. This is a crucial couple of weeks for Arsenal: how they handle the Robin van Persie situation, how they bed in Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud, and who else they get in.”
Wenger risks losing Van Persie on a free transfer next summer if he doesn’t either sell the Dutchman or persuade him to sign a new contract; the same goes for Theo Walcott. But could they have done more to convince RvP to say?
“Arsenal’s handling of the Van Persie situation has been appalling,” says the Sunday Mirror’s David Walker. “Senior people at the club – Arsène Wenger, the chairman – have said: ‘We want Robin to stay,’ and then Gilles Grimandi, the scout, said in an interview in French that the reason they’ve made these signings [Podolski and Giroud] is because Robin is leaving. If you’re in the Van Persie camp, you’re thinking that they’re planning for life without you.”
Van Persie and Walcott aside, it’s not all bad in the red half of north London. Podolski and Giroud will give Arsenal some real force up front and there’s a strong chance that Málaga’s Santi Cazorla could join Wenger’s troupe of diminutive forwards.
“It looks like a good deal,” says the Guardian’s Dominic Fifield. “Cazorla’s a very talented player who did very well at Villarreal and had a good year at Málaga getting them into the Champions League, and Arsenal can exploit a bit of financial insecurity at Málaga now. He’s an attacking winger and steeped in the Spanish mentality so I would have thought he’d fit in perfectly at Arsenal.”
Watch the full video discussion by clicking on the play button in the image above.
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[Ed - this article was corrected to read Abou Diaby and not Alex Song, who will return from injury.]