by ‘Ifreke Inyang
It is the Emmanuel Adebayor story all over again. One brilliant season and either or both Manchester clubs, are singing love songs into your ears. The difference perhaps, is that Robin van Persie’s version, came complete with a press release (which he aptly tweeted the link to), stating that he would not extend his stay at Arsenal.
The Dutch striker, who turned 29 last Monday, is however the loser this time. When Adebayor flirted with the big clubs back then, Arsenal and Arsene massaged his ego and offered him a bumper new deal. Even the fans refreshed sports websites daily, hoping for positive news from the stand-off.
Not so for Van Persie. His fall from grace has been spectacular, if not incredible. A few months back, the Emirates faithful worshipped every blade of grass he walked on. Every time he scored – as he usually did last season – they would chorus: “He scores when he wants, Robin van Persie, he scores when he wants..” After he posted those few paragraphs on his personal website, the love affair turned sour.
Gooners on social media took to Twitter especially, to shower abuse on the former Feyernoord man, reminding him of how everyone associated with the club stood by him, throughout his injury-stricken years. And they got a chance to launch the verbal assault last Sunday, when Arsenal faced FC Cologne in a pre-season game.
“He scores when he wants, Lukas Podolski, he scores when he wants,” they sang away, refering to new summer acquisiton, Lukas Podolski, who scored two classy goals in the first half. His strike partner, Olivier Giroud, another summer arrival himself, was lively upfront, with the newest signing, Santi Cazorla, orchestrating things majestically. When Van Persie replaced the German striker later in the second half, he was welcomed by a rain of boos.
After the game, a clearly embarrassed Van Persie, made his way to the Arsenal fans to applaud them. It might yet be his last game for the club. Sir Alex Ferguson has reportedly gone cap in hand to Wenger to try and agree a deal. But on the evidence of that game, the Arsenal fans already have a new hero in their ranks, and have moved on from Van Persie. They would rather stick to a player, who is ready to give his very best, not someone who openly admitted he’d rather be elsewhere.