According to the ever-reliable David Ornstein of the BBC (sort of like Inspector Dim, Dim of the Yard), Robin van Persie was open to staying after smelling what Arsene was cooking:
It is understood Van Persie was encouraged by the arrivals of Germany forward Lukas Podolski, France striker Olivier Giroud and Spain midfielder Cazorla - to the point where he was open to the idea of staying with or without a new contract.
-- David Ornstein, BBC
However, Arsene Wenger had made his mind up:
But Wenger pulled him aside shortly before Sunday's friendly victory over Cologne, told him he would be sold if a deal could be reached and informed the Dutchman he was no longer part of his plans.
Come with us below the jump for more as to how this might have all played out.
RvP: You know, Mr. Wenger, I was wrong. I shouldn't have said what I said. It was premature, and I was an ingrate. You made me who I am today.
(Wenger stares silently into the distance over the horizon).
RvP: Mr. Wenger? Boss? Are you...are you listening? I said I was wrong. I'm willing to stay.
(Wenger pulls out a tape recorder, sets it on the ground, and pushes play before walking away without looking back. On the tape:
RvP: ....damn. (Sheds a single tear).
Personally, I'm (as per usual), pretty torn about this. I think it was always going to be hard for van Persie to climb down from his statement, but at the same time, keeping him around as an asset who could score goals didn't seem like a bad idea to me. Getting £24m for a player and having United spend 220k/wk in wages on a player isn't a bad thing in my mind, either, but...it's Manchester United. I'm not sure it's worth any price to have them getting even marginally better, as they are one of Arsenal's main rivals and nearest competition for four different objectives. I had basically convinced myself that keeping him and even benching him would almost be worth any amount of money lost on the transfer fee for the chance of increased revenues from finishing higher than United.
But he's gone, and it's time to move on. No player is bigger than the club. I'm going to choose to focus solely on the positive things about Arsenal and the club's shiny new bankroll for now, because I'm tired of having the sads. The season is three days away, the team is looking ready to go, and there are two weeks until the transfer window is closed. Football is upon us, and it is glorious.