Robin van Persie: are Arsenal or Man Utd the real winners?
United have pulled off the transfer of the summer, but there are pros and cons for both sides
THE BIGGEST transfer deal of the summer has finally been done. Arsenal have agreed to sell star striker Robin van Persie to arch rivals Manchester United for a reported fee of up to £24m. But who are the real winners?
After a summer of constant speculation the pundits are split on who will benefit most from the move, and there is also debate about where exactly the Dutch striker will fit in at United as they seek to wrest back the impetus from their neighbours and current league champions, Manchester City.
Few doubt that a fully fit Van Persie will be an asset for Alex Ferguson. "A striker with the poise and confidence to make his own chances and finish the ones created by others is possibly the final piece in Ferguson's jigsaw, although the manager thought he was getting the same type of player when he paid considerably more for [Dimitar] Berbatov," notes The Guardian.
There could be ramifications for others in the United squad. Berbatov is already surplus to requirements and the paper notes that the Dutchman's presence at Old Trafford could impact on Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez. Indeed, there are reports that the latter could head to Arsenal.
But the "fundamental question is whether Van Persie goes into the United attack alongside Rooney or instead of him," notes the paper.
US sports website Bleacher Report knows the answer. "Last year, Sir Alex Ferguson fully committed to the tandem strikers," it states. "He dropped Wayne Rooney behind Danny Welbeck, and United were pretty dangerous. By sliding Robin Van Persie into [Welbeck's] role, United get ridiculously better. No offence to Welbeck, but Van Persie is in a class of his own."
It describes Van Persie as the best finisher in the league and claims that Rooney could end up providing two dozen assists next season.
But can United afford him? Derek Ciapala of Yahoo baulks at the £24m transfer fee. "That's a lot of money for a team struggling to pay off its debts," he notes, and what's more: "His salary could hurt Manchester United's efforts to bring in other young players down the road."
Fergie would have been better off signing a younger man like Robert Lewandowski of Borussia Dortmund who would last longer. And that raises the two main concerns about Van Persie - his age and his fitness record.
Writing from an Arsenal perspective, the Bleacher Report notes that at 29 Van Persie is no spring chicken and last season was a "statistical outlier" for the Dutchman, who has never managed to play more than 30 league games in a season before.
"With as much money as Arsenal are looking to get from United, they should be able to sign a few more players, too," it notes.
So is Arsene Wenger the real winner in the deal? The Daily Telegraph thinks not. The sale is "more damning than past departures," it says. Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira were past their best when they left, Cesc Fabregas had a romantic link to Barcelona and Samir Nasri was "all about the money".
This is different. "Van Persie has gone primarily because he shares the fear of many supporters that this squad is no longer good enough to win major trophies."
But Arsenal had to cash in. "The deal is one Arsenal quite simply had to do," insists the Daily Mirror. "It was £24m now or lose van Persie on a free transfer in a year's time.
"It was no longer just because Van Persie wouldn't sign a new contract. The Arsenal love affair with the Dutchman had finished."
That view appears to be backed up by Arsenal fans on Twitter. Chat show host Piers Morgan tweeted: "Funny, I really thought @Persie-Official was different. But he turned out to be just another mercenary, heartless, selfish little s**t."