Peter Hill-Wood has confirmed the club will not even begin talks over a new deal with Robin Van Persie until the summer, when he will have only one year left on his contract. Does that scenario sound familiar? Clearly the board have not learnt anything from the Samir Nasri debacle last summer. Hill-Wood states it is the player who does not want to open talks with the club until then, but the fact “we are not troubling him” should send alarm bells ringing. This is the best player in our squad at the moment, a truly world class player upon whom so much of Arsenal’s future depends and we are not troubling him?
Apparently Hill-Wood cannot see any reason why Van Persie would not sign a new contract with the club. Well let me give you three reasons. The Dutchman is currently one of football’s hottest properties and therefore can command the highest wage available (he currently earns £80,000 a week while the likes of Tevez are pocketing £250,000). Then there is the fact that over the past few seasons Arsenal have sold at least one of their top players in the summer transfer window significantly weakening the squad, and finally the stark reality that the Gunners can no longer realistically compete for the major titles. Although he has been plagued by serious injuries since his arrival from Feyenoord, you cannot blame Van Persie for wanting to wait to see if Arsenal can match his ambition. He is in his prime and doesn’t want to waste his best years with a club that appears to be perennially in transition.
This is where Ivan Gazidis should come in and really earn his money. After years of frugality Gazidis should have plenty of resources in the bank to make Van Persie the highest paid player in the squad. Many argue that this will set a precedent and others within the squad will demand similar increases in their wage. But I believe it will act as an incentive, if you perform to the same level that Van Persie has been over the past ten months, then you will be in the same position as the Dutchman, reaping the rewards of your endeavor. Arsenal cannot underestimate just how important this deal is for the future of the club, to sit back and simply allow Van Persie to leave in the summer (which unfortunately I believe will happen) will be absolutely disastrous and could well sound the death knell for a team which was once proclaimed as invincible.