Will Van Persie end up looking back at Arsenal with envy?

Robin van Persie made one of the most high-profile transfers last season from Arsenal to Manchester United.

After spending 8 years in North London under Arsene Wenger, the Dutchman made his decision not to renew his contract and was subsequently sold to the eventual Premier League champions for £24.5 million.

He had won the Golden Boot in his final season with the Gunners and won it again last term with the Red Devils for his outstanding tally of 26 goals in 38 appearances.

Cut to: Sir Alex Ferguson retires as manager of Manchester United after 26 years. The glue that held the club and the team together, undoubtedly, and the greatest British manager in history announced his decision to call it a day.

Meanwhile, it was yet another frustrating and disappointing season down at the Emirates where Arsenal managed only to clinch fourth place and a subsequent Champions League qualification place ahead of archrivals Tottenham.

Van Persie won his first league title in his career at the age of 29 after almost a decade playing in the English top tier. On the day of the parade through the city of Manchester, I very much doubt the Dutchman had any regrets about his decision to engineer a move away from Arsenal.

But in the months and years to come I wonder whether he may change his mind about that.

Arsenal have been handcuffed by the Emirates Stadium sponsorship deals in recent years and Wenger has (somewhat out of necessity) had to hold the club’s purse strings tightly every summer in the transfer market. But that looks to be about to change.

Arsenal are linked with big signings – the likes of Real Madrid’s Gonzalo Higuain, Everton’s Marouane Fellaini, and even Van Persie’s United teammate Wayne Rooney. There seems to have been a shift in mentality and a surplus of resources suddenly coming into play at Arsenal and, had he stayed, he may well have been a beneficiary of that.

Instead he now likely faces a transitional phase at Old Trafford – the ushering out of the old regime under Ferguson and the ushering in of the new regime under David Moyes.

The likelihood is that Manchester City will up their game under new boss Manuel Pellegrini who has already spent £45 million on Fernandinho and Jesus Navas and we haven’t even made it into July yet.

Chelsea have Jose Mourinho back at the helm and will surely present much more of a challenge to United next term. All in all, the probability that United will retain the Premier League title is much slimmer this time around. There have been wholesale changes made, not just at Old Trafford, but across the landscape of the top four.

Arsene Wenger, Van Persie’s old mentor, remains at Arsenal and will now become the league’s longest-serving manager. Arsenal have money to spend and will perhaps challenge for trophies and titles in a much more convincing fashion over the course of the next few years.

In all honesty, I highly doubt Robin van Persie will ever wish he’d remained at Arsenal – I believe he left because he felt he had achieved all he could with the Gunners and he wanted a change of scenery. By his own admission, he left because he wanted to win 'titles', and that he did.

However, I don’t think he banked on Ferguson abandoning ship at Old Trafford and I suspect there may be some element of regret that Van Persie didn’t have more time to learn from the mastermind manager.

If United continue to win titles under David Moyes, I’m sure the thought wouldn’t even cross his mind but if Chelsea and City and even Arsenal are arming themselves with the capability to knock United off the perch they enjoyed this term, Van Persie might find his move for ‘titles’ a little less fruitful than he’d have hoped.


image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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