8 years ago, good old astute economist Arsene Wenger capitalized on a
rift between a young Dutch man and his coach  Bert Van Marwijk at
Feyernoord  to land him for a cool £2.75 million, just over half of the
original asking price of £5 million. Pricing enormous talents at cheap
prices and nurturing them into super stars had become an entrenched
metier of his throughout his illustrious career. And he was to perform
the master stroke on this one too. The young man he had just signed was a
winger, who had scored 22 goals in 78 appearances for De club aan de Maas. He was 21 year old Robin Van Persie.

had a lot to do. Van Persie was young, very young. He also had a
disturbing track record of being rebellious, encountering numerous
disciplinary problems. But there was a plan, and Wenger had it figured
out. He would mould him into a fine player, by first converting him from
a winger to an out and out goal poacher. It would take time, months,
even years, but Wenger was confident it would pay off, and invested in
the young man, through thick and thin.

8 years and 132 goals
later, Van Persie became Arsenal’s team captain, and number one key
player. Again, the master Wenger had created a beast of a goal
scorer,one of the best in Europe, like he did Thierry Henry. Van Persie
top scored the Premier League with 30 goals, won the coveted PFA player
of the year, and cemented his place in Arsenal’s history books.

But even
with all this personal successes, there would be a craving for
collective team success that would test his commitment to loyalty,
something which he undoubtedly owed Wenger and Arsenal. A 7- year trophy
drought at the Emirates meant Van Persie was always going catch the
‘frustrated star’ syndrome to pack up and leave, on a journey to taste
what had become a rare joy of winning a major trophy. High profile
exoduses has almost become a tradition at Arsenal, Viera, Gilberto,
Henry, Gallas, Fabregas Adebayor et al. However Van Persie’s switch is
evocative of  pure controversy, as he chose the wrong club to realize
his dreams.  Arsenal’s arch rivals Manchester United.

Of course,
moving directly across board from one fierce arch rival to the other in
unforgivable. It has always been, well at least in the realm of fans,
and their intense passion. And I’m sure Van Persie knows it. In as much
as there is nothing logically wrong in seeking a platform to win laurels
whereas the current platform does not offer opportunities to do so, the
place to go must be thought of extensively. Van Persie’s case is
perculiar because he owes his career to Arsenal/Wenger ,who made him a
far better player and had confidence in him during his lowest points.
Coupled with becoming an established fan’s favorite, the delicate matter
of loyalty comes to play.

Loyalty is debatable, especially in
contemporary football, which has become a complicated business
mechanism. Money has kicked loyalty out of the corridors decision
making, whilst prestige and money have become synonymous. So it has
become normal these days for players to leave clubs where they are
revered, motivated by prestige(a chance to win trophies), and money.
Many argue that the place of loyalty and it’s associated emotions in
such a harsh system should be realistically non existent.

But even
with all that, I think it is logical for football fans to expect a
player who breaks the loyalty code to at least do so in a way that does
not further ‘disrespect’ laid down traditions. In short, you don’t leave
your club for their rivals. That is stretching the elasticity of
loyalty way too far. That is wrong, especially for a player like Van
Persie, who had everything to prove at a club where he was captain,
especially when his predecessors all in a way abandoned the club at some

He had the chance to be a man of his word, to be a one club man,
to be part of a possible golden team that would make history and annex a
trophy for the gunners, to be a legend in gunner folklore. But no. He
decided to sacrifice 7 years of hardwork for his ambitions. Now, he is
no longer an Arsenal legend, despite everything. Just like that. From
worshipped cult hero to despised traitor. All because of one needless(in
my opinion) move.

The negatives certainly have the upper hand on
this one. He could have just ruined his playing progress, which is on a
rise. It is no secret that Manchester United don’t necessarily need him,
as they already have enough firepower in Rooney, Welbeck and
Chicharito. Furthermore, he could find out very late that Arsenal was
the perfect fit for him. Manchester United might struggle to enact a
tactical blueprint to play to his strengths. It could turn out to be a
really bad move.

In fact, the move not only upsets the sacrosanctity of
loyalty, but also looks like a careless go at Russian Roulette. RVP has
achieved so much in his career to put all his eggs in one basket and
risk it all now. Even attempting to overcome the psychological damage
that the abuse from Arsenal fans will have on him will be a tall order,
-case in point- Fernando Torress.

Van Persie better know what he has gotten himself into. For his own sake, and that of his career.

on the other hand, has completed another fine cycle of what he does
best. That is almost 22 million pounds worth of profit. Sheer genius.
Life goes on for him and Arsenal, as it has always done.

Fiifi Anaman.

*This article first appeared on Full-TimeWhistle.com on August 17, 2012, where yours truly is a columnist*