Welcome to Friday, which spells, ‘slow news day’ as far as I’m concerned. A quick glance at BBC Football this morning tells me that Robin Van Persie hasn’t yet reached a conclusion in his contract talks with Arsenal, whilst Roberto Martinez is set to sit down and speak to Liverpool over their vacant manager’s position after Kenny Dalglish was sacked on Wednesday.
Aside from Kenny Dalglish flying all the way to Boston to be told he was sacked on Wednesday, Robin Van Persie hopped in his car and travelled to Arsene Wenger’s house that same day to discuss the Dutch striker’s new contract. Ivan Gazidis would also have been present and from what I can gather, the discussions went on for a long time, as they would when a contract worth millions of pounds is the subject of discussion, more so that the contract is designed to keep a high-performance component of the club in place for the next few years.
Naturally, an agreement wasn’t struck there and then. Talks between Van Persie, Wenger and Gazidis would have been preliminary, not decisive and typically a deal was not sorted out on Wednesday. Of course, Arsenal would have wanted Van Persie’s contract sorted before the Euro 2012 campaign, but Van Persie, always open to settle matters after the Euros, was happy to meet up with Dutch squad on Thursday and a decision will be settled one way or the other when Van Persie returns to Arsenal.
It’s widely accepted that Van Persie has great affection for the club. Van Persie broke through lines of stewards to celebrate with Arsenal fans at the Hawthorns on the last day of the season as Arsenal secured third place, dragged Pat Rice out of the dressing room so he could have a proper send off with the Arsenal fans, organised a player’s fund to buy Pat Rice a watch as a leaving present and his wife organised a girls’ night out with all the girlfriends and wives of the players.
Robin Van Persie has also organised many, many team events over the course of this season for the team to bond and relax in general. Family BBQ’s, meals out, trips to the cinema and other things have been organised by Van Persie in his capacity of captain.
This has all happened in stark contrast to Cesc Fabregas’ final year at Arsenal, where he refused to play in pre-season matches whilst he tried his best to join Barcelona and word is that Fabregas was generally a moody figure in his final year at Arsenal. Fabregas had a lot of friends, of course, and still does at Arsenal. Van Persie and Fabregas went on holiday together just before the Spanish midfielder moved to Barcelona, so relations were okay, but his default mood that year was one of wanting to get away. Fabregas would not have done any of the things above that Van Persie had done this year for Arsenal.
Whilst Van Persie has great affection for Arsenal, he is a competitive football player, and a player of Van Persie’s calibre needs to be winning trophies. I imagine this whole ‘saga’ to be pulling Van Persie apart; does he stay and be loved at Arsenal, or move away for trophies should his ambitions not be realised?
Van Persie held talks with Arsene Wenger last year to express his great frustration at the departures of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri. Recently in an interview with Four Four Two magazine, Van Persie claimed their departures had crushed him, saying that midfielders such as Fabregas are very rare and that to lose such a player was a crushing blow.
In Van Persie’s crisis talks with Wenger, he stated the need for top-level players and this is the decisive factor for Van Persie’s new contract talks. Should Van Persie return from competing in the Euros to find that Arsenal have signed two more top players to join new signing, Lukas Podolski, then I imagine Van Persie will be very warm to signing a new contract, but Arsenal must show ambition in the transfer market to realise their initial ambition of signing Van Persie to a new contract.
Along with Lukas Podolski, I would sign another striker, as I believe Podolski will play predominantly on the left, with Van Persie in the middle and Theo Walcott on the right. To join a new striker, Arsenal need another midfield enforcer, potentially Yann M’Vila, and another creative outlet to help with Arsenal’s natural flow.
After losing Fabregas and Nasri, Arsenal have become more methodical in their build-up, rather than fluid and unpredictable. There are pros and cons to both styles, but a more fluid style holds the more pros. With Fabregas and Nasri, goals were coming from those two, Arshavin, Walcott, Van Persie, Chamakh and Bendtner. This season, most attacks culminate in Van Persie applying the final touches and the goal return from other areas of the team has been relatively low compared to other seasons, which boils down to a lack of fluidity.
If Arsenal show their ambition in the transfer market, then the signing of Van Persie’s new contract will be pivotal in returning to a more fluid style, and, hopefully, Arsenal will finally provide Van Persie the silverware of which he is deserving.
Finally today, Roberto Martinez has been linked with the Liverpool manager’s job after Dave Whelan allowed Martinez to talk with Liverpool over their new vacancy.
For me, I wouldn’t touch Martinez for another five years if I were Liverpool’s owners. Martinez could link up with Aston Villa and I believe he’d do a fantastic job with Villa’s youngsters and he’d have them playing to a style they haven’t enjoyed for three years. I don’t believe it will take a lot for Martinez to fire Aston Villa away from where they currently are.
Liverpool on the other hand are undergoing massive changes. To oversee Liverpool’s current transition, an experienced manager needs to come in and steady the ship, not the young Martinez. Another reason I’d say no to Martinez, is due to Wigan’s prosperity to perform only in the latter stages of a season. For twenty-eight matches a season, Wigan are terrible, but for those last ten games they are capable of winning them all and securing survival, it’s ridiculous how a team who lost nine on the bounce earlier this season can still survive.
Liverpool, I plead with you, do not open talks with Martinez because he’s a terrible manager, but because he’s still perfecting his trade and that is not the personality needed at Liverpool at the moment. Martin O’Neill would be an ideal appointment for Liverpool, but wouldn’t he be an ideal appointment for any club? If Liverpool were to hammer on Sunderland’s door, I don’t see Martin O’Neill refusing the chance to turn Liverpool round on to the right track again.
Right, that’s your lot for today, I’m becoming pushed for time as I finish this post!
Enjoy your weekend, I’ll see you on Monday.