Fade to grey: RVP clarity is required

Good morning to you.

Yesterday we got our first glimpse of Robin van Persie back at training and it looks to me like he’s had a very stressful summer. Where did all that grey hair come from? Ravanelli van Persie. Maybe he was always silver of temple and simply decided it was time to stop using the Just For Men. The new, up-front, honest van Persie appears quite content to become distinguished. Maybe he was showing Arsene Wenger – ‘Look at what all these years without a trophy have done to me’. He’ll be strutting around in the nip showing off his liver spots next.

Anyway, it seems the club and the captain are set to sit down and have a good old chat about the ‘situation’. We leave on Saturday to begin our tour of the far-east and a decision has to be made on that. If he’s going to be allowed leave the club there seems little point in bringing him. There’s no benefit to us from a footballing point of view and we might as well use the games to allow Giroud and Podolski to settle in and see what they can do.

But him not going is tantamount to announcing his departure. It weakens our bargaining position with other clubs and he is, after all, the captain. Would there be difficulties with teammates who might be unhappy with the way he’s played his hand this summer? I doubt that, really, but what if he picks up an injury which prevents him moving? Some might say timely, some might suggest that an injury prone player who doesn’t want to be at a club is hardly going to give it 100% in the last season in case he gets even more injured.

It is, to all intents and purposes, a bit of a mess. According to The Mirror we’ve had a ‘string’ of offers for van Persie since his statement, none of which have come close to our asking price. The clubs mentioned are Man City (duh), Man United and Juventus. Reports emerged yesterday that the club are going to tell him that they will not sell him and will hold him to the final year of his contract. Which sounds fine, until you remember how he released his statement and spoke about the meeting with the manager and Ivan Gazidis:

Unfortunately in this meeting it has again become clear to me that we in many aspects disagree on the way Arsenal FC should move forward.

This is the captain of the club in open disagreement with the club’s policy (and I’m not blind to the fact that many of us have doubts and concerns about aspects of that) and the way the manager is working (see previous brackets). For fans chatting online, after the game in the pub etc, that’s a normal enough conversation to have. For the captain of Arsenal, not so much in my opinion. And regardless of what you think about what he said, it’s almost impossible for him to continue as captain having said it. For him to stay means publicly, and rather humiliatingly, stripping him of the armband.

I suspect that there is a measure of posturing from Arsenal’s point of view. If his statement weakened our hand in the face of potential buying clubs, this strengthens it … at least on the surface. If the offer was big enough, I still think we’ll sell. Keeping a player who is fundamentally at odds with the way the manager is working, and who has made that clear in a public statement, just doesn’t seem healthy. It would take a massive backtrack from van Persie – another statement to disavow his first one – and I just don’t see that happening.

So, whatever they sit down and talk about, and whenever they sit down and talk about it, let’s hope that we get closer to some form of resolution. The manager has, apparently, got a press conference in Malaysia on Sunday, the first time he’ll have faced the press since last season. Obviously you would like the focus to be on the games, the pre-season preparation, the new players we’ve brought in etc, but the futures of both van Persie and Walcott will dominate proceedings. What Arsene says will be interesting. I wonder how guarded he will be. Last summer, at more or less the same time, he said:

Imagine the worst situation – we lose Fabregas and Nasri – you cannot convince people you are ambitious after that.

Fast forward 12 months and you’ll have an even more difficult time if you ‘lose’ van Persie and Walcott. So while there’s obviously a lot to say, there’s probably as much not to say. A reading between the lines special when it comes to that press conference, one which will be eagerly awaited nonetheless.

Meanwhile, the club took the unusual step of announcing that Carlos Vela was in talks with Real Sociedad last night. The story has been going on all summer, the Basque club really want to keep him after his 12 goal loan season, and Vela has been keen to stay in San Sebastian. Or at least not return to London. The announcement suggests that the clubs have reached an agreement, the sticking point appeared to be the additional clauses aside from the €3-4m fee.

Arsenal wanted a large sell-on fee, Real offered a shared ownership deal which was rejected, and it looks as if we’ll get 50%+ of any future transfer he makes. So it’s adios, Charlie Candle, La Liga will be home to his chips from now on.

And finally, not only was van Persie back in training but so too Andrei Arshavin and a particularly grumpy looking Nicklas Bendtner. Two forwards whose futures are also up in the air. I think it’s definitely done and dusted for the latter, there are a number of clubs sniffing around TGSTEL, but I wonder if the same applies to Arshavin and, in light of that, if he might continue into the final year of his Arsenal career. We shall see.

Finally finally – this is well worth a read on your coffee break. The summation nails it for me, but hoping for honesty from footballers is like hoping for Phil Collins not be a monstrous, bastard-faced arsehole.

Till tomorrow.

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