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Robin van Persie possibly re-considering leaving Arsenal


Because nothing can ever just be simple and straightforward even when it's terribly painful, there are reports (from Sky Sports) that Arsenal striker and probably-technically-still captain Robin van Persie may be reconsidering his now-infamous statement and may be willing to sign a new contract at Arsenal after all. (Sky have taken down their post, which may say something about this whole mess. Here's proof that they did say it, at 13:23 and 16:40. Here's some more. My kingdom for a screenshot.)

EDIT: Travis Burk has sent me this screenshot. So I guess I owe him my kingdom: when I get one, it will be transferred.

The player will allegedly hold a meeting with chief executive Ivan Gazidis upon the latter's return from holiday (which he may or may not actually be on, nobody seems to know for sure), which was a meeting scheduled before all of the insanity occurred. If the reports are true, it would certainly call to mind a similar stunt pulled by Manchester United's Wayne Rooney a couple of years ago, when he demanded a transfer only to be given a new long-term deal shortly thereafter.

So, what's going on here? That's a good question, I'm glad you've asked. It's possible that Sky Sports Sources are right, as sometimes they are, and Robin has had a change of heart. A thought experiment: You're a professional athlete who loves the team you play for, but are dissatisfied with outcomes lately and steps being taken to improve. You're used to getting what you want, so you decide to go public with your unhappiness to either get them to do something or get you out. But when you do, the fans aren't upset with the club or the board (more than usual, anyway) or the manager: they're mad at you. They demand to see you gone as soon as possible, they call you names I can't print...the people who loved you turned on you, and fast. So that really backfired, didn't it? It ceased to be a problem with the team and became This Athlete Is Ungrateful and Must Be Destroyed. Perhaps that might make a person do a quick 180 and reassess some things.

Sidebar: I often criticize Arsenal fans for being annoyingly ready to attack players, but this time I'm on your side. That statement was awful, and completely changed my perception of van Persie as an athlete and a person.

Related: The Robin van Persie Statement and Uncertainty | Follow The Short Fuse on Twitter!

Or maybe this isn't real. Maybe this is a PR stunt calculated by van Persie('s agents and handlers) to "win back the crowd." Now, they think, the ball's been put back in Arsenal's court. If van Persie doesn't sign it's not a refusal, just a failed negotiation (by Arsenal, they'll claim). The player goes back to being the guy who scored 30 last year and left for trophies, rather than the guy who made a public announcement that drastically cut his value and ruined Arsenal's ability to negotiate fairly to sell him.

Sidebar: Yeah, can you tell I'm still a bit angry with him?

Or perhaps he really does regret the statement and wants to return, but the bridges are too charred to be salvageable? Maybe the other players and the manager (and management staff, and fans, etc.) feel too betrayed for him to be able to stay, even if he wants to do so. Honestly, at this moment, I'm not sure how I feel about him coming back - he's a great player, and his goals are lovely, but I personally am not sure I can go back to feeling about him the way I did this year.

To make a long post short, don't read too much into this. It may not be true, and even if it is, he still may not come back, and even if he does, we may not all want him back. My opinion is that it is highly unlikely that Robin van Persie will be an Arsenal player next year, and that this is a poorly-conceived PR move by his management team (who should all be fired, by the way). I do believe it's possible he could return, but were I to bet, it would be on van Persie in another shirt in August.

One thing is very clear: there's a long way still to go in the van Persie Saga, and none of this is going to be simple or easy.