Why Manchester United Might Regret Robin van Persie Transfer

It's hard not be seduced when prevailing speculation plays to such obvious narrative as that of Robin van Persie's doomed future at Manchester United.

After an unconvincing season, stunted at its start and now lame with injury, just about every paper and website on planet football has Van Persie up for sale this summer.

"Van Persie faces being left behind by Manchester United," led the Manchester Evening News on Tuesday, reporting that 69% of United fans polled want RvP gone - presumably in exchange for a younger, less injury-prone, more prolific alternative.

Radamel Falcao anyone? Ok, maybe not him.

Manchester United v Burnley - Premier League : News Photo

This is not about United fans being fickle (all football fans are fickle), because there's real statistical meat on the bones of the Van Persie Out argument. As pointed out by the MEN, his minutes-per-goal ratio has dropped season-on-season in the three campaigns he's had at Old Trafford.

And then there's the fact that, with Van Persie out of the side injured, United have gone on a five-game Premier League winning spree - taking out Spurs and Liverpool en route to a healthy third in the table.

Van Persie will miss the Manchester derby this weekend, but will United miss Van Persie? Louis van Gaal's team are on an upward trajectory, Wayne Rooney is firing, Marouane Fellaini is a hair rocker reborn and Ander Herrera is the Stretford End's new cherub-faced darling.

How many times have United fans sung Van Persie's name to the tune of Seven Nation Army in the last few weeks? Even from the other side of the Atlantic I can guess with some confidence that number is very low.

So where does all of this leave RvP, the man who just a few months ago cut through the air as a Dutch javelin in Brazil, to score one of the World Cup's great goals? And where does it leave his relationship with Van Gaal, the manager he so heartily high-fived after that iconic goal against Spain?

Journalists are pointing to the one year remaining on Van Persie's contract and reaching an obvious conclusion - that United will cash in while they can and exchange Van Persie for a more dynamic forward in the mould of PSG's hunk of a specimen, Edinson Cavani.

Such temptation is obvious, but it's forgetting that Van Persie is a settled, potentially prolific striker, and that whoever comes in will face the trials and tribulations of adjusting to life in Manchester, and the enormous expectancy that greets all big-money forwards arriving at Old Trafford.

Moreover, is three seasons really a big enough sample size for Van Persie? And are we really saying that at 31 he's in irreversible decline?

The counterargument is that Van Persie's 2013-14 season was ruined as much by the adjustments of the David Moyes regime as anything else. This current season had a false start after Van Persie's exertions at the World Cup. His lack of a full preseason could even be partly behind his most recent injury.

This summer Van Persie should be rested and ready to take part in a full preseason of preparation. With a United team starting to tick around him, the chances will flow again and - as he's proved throughout his career - a razor sharp RvP will be only too ready to snaffle them up.

Pace was never a Van Persie trademark. Van Gaal has made it clear he wants more than a poacher, and Van Persie can deliver that if given the chance to thrive alongside Rooney as he did in the 2012-13 campaign.


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The RvP United fans fell in love with had a team playing with confidence and flow around him. That team went away for the 2013-14 season and they've been missing for much of this one. But as the victories mount up, United are starting to look like a team who could support RvP again.

For now Van Gaal may be unconvinced, but If there's one thing we've learned about the United manager, it's that he's forever for the turning. Let's not forget this is the coach who dropped Van Persie from the Dutch set-up and then returned him as captain for the World Cup.

There's a lot being said about why United should sell Van Persie this summer, but I'd argue against it. Signing world-class strikers is a costly business and one to avoid if you've already got one within your ranks.

Van Persie might seem like a luxury player in times of need, but if Van Gaal gets his team purring his fellow Dutchman might be just the man to propel a title challenge next season.

If United do sell him, you can absolutely guarantee he'll score 25 goals or more wherever he lands. Just ask Arsenal fans.


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