There are three breeds of footballers.

The first of the kind are called ai???Mercenariesai???. They do not understand ai???attachmentai??? to fans, players, managers. They play football primarily for two reasons ai??i?? earn a lot of money and travel to a lot of new places (clubs, countries). In an analogous way, fans do not get emotionally attached to such players even if they are extremely good at their job.

Then there is an ai???Extremely Loyalai??? kind. This is a breed which is almost on the verge of extinction. These players get very easily attached to the ai???football familyai??? they play for, earn money from. They are not motivated enough by silverware or liquid cash filled in oil barrels of Arabian Merchants. The fans, players and managers are very close to these players and they admire and respect such atypical prototypes.

Then there is a third kind ai??i?? ai???At a crossroadai???! These players claim to be loyal footballers, show extreme love towards fans, managers and team-mates while they are at the club. Similarly, the fans return the favor by showering endless affection in their own inimitable ways. These players, are however, highly motivated by money and silverware, the latter they ingeniously term as ai???ambitionai???.

It is an outstanding thing to be ambitious in life; all great footballers have been determined to achieve greatness by winning a lot of trophies for their respective clubs as well as individual accolades for themselves. But winning and achieving ai???greatnessai??? come at a cost ai??i?? trust, loyalty and patience juxtaposed with a bit of luck.

If you have been a great servant to the club, performing consistently over the years, having been particularly ambitious, you have all the right to want the same from your club, manager and team-mates. There is no point in playing in an environment of mediocrity if you are at the peak of your capabilities. Having said that, there should be a perfect harmony between what you preach and what you actually do.

Cases in point, at Arsenal, there are a number of players who can be considered to understand the above.

Thierry Henry

He ai???did it allai??i?? for Arsenal and almost single-handedly raised the level of football played at Highbury in the Arsene era. He was surely helped by his team-mates, who ai???did their bitai??i?? in achieving Invincibility during the early 2000s. After achieving everything in league football, and almost picking up a European medal in Paris, he wanted to ai???move onai??i??, to ai???try outai??? fresher challenges.

He was so attached to the club that he made a 30 mins video explaining them why he wished to move on. In Thierryai??i??s case, such a video was not needed – He is a legend at Arsenal, he will always be. He had performed immensely over a long period of time and matched every expectation the fans had from the stupendous footballer that he was. His departure was a scene of sadness and mutual respect with the fans wishing him all the best and thanking him for his incredible service to the club.

There is only one Thierry Henry

.

Samir Nasri

Almost 999 of 1000 Arsenal fans will define the Frenchman with one particularly distasteful four letter-word. Such unison of opinion can only happen if the player has done something extremely disrespectful to the club, and so it was. Nasri claimed to have loved the club and believed in the ai???systemai??i?? not such a long time before he left for supposedly greener pastures. Citing ai???ambitionai??i?? as a plausible reason and winning silverware as the ultimate objective, Samir appeared in the Light Blue of Manchester City as Arsenal fans discussed about his family in repugnant tones on public forums.

The irony of the situation lied in the fact that Nasri indeed won silverware at City ai??i?? but the story doesnai??i??t end there. He chose to open his mouth yet again talking about how his move from Arsenal was a faultless order from the holy upstairs and that ai???he proved a pointai??? to the Arsenal fans. In case, you, an ignorant football fan, is unaware of it; that point was ai???Manchester City fans are more passionate than Arsenal fansai???. Well, let us leave it at that, this is a debate for another day!

Cesc Fabregas

After serving the club with paramount dedication and commitment over a period when the club was going through a transition phase, Fabregas was the closest anybody came to the greatness of the level of Thierry Henry. He captained the club when it was in dire straits; he played with pain; he played with conviction, and he played for the cannon on his chest! The case with Cesc was that every Arsenal fan knew that he would, one day, return to his ai???Mother Clubai??i??. The only question that remained was ai???When?ai???!

Finally, the time came before the start of last season when the Catalans broke Arsenal’s resistance. A few believed that he could have stayed for a few more years, win something for the club and then left. More than a few accepted his departure with a heavy heart but with warm wishes for a better and brighter future playing in his homeland for the best football team on the planet. A reasonable football fan would just conclude this case with ai???Come on!ai???

Came Close to Greatness, but....

.

Robin van Persie

An arrogant and nauseating character, almost of the Joey Barton archetype, van Persie was picked up from Feyenoord back in 2004. He was nurtured and domesticated at Arsenal by Arsene and his medical staff over the years. After spending more time in the medical room than the football pitch, van Persie, finally, arrived to the occasion. He had a phenomenal year with Arsenal, even wearing the captainai??i??s arm-band and leading from the front on multiple occasions with magnificent goal-scoring performances one after another.

He became the fans’ favorite with his humble demeanor and amiable personality off the pitch, claiming to never leave the ai???club he lovedai??i??. All in all, he was Arsenalai??i??s poster-boy, the quintessential front-man, the one-man representative of that famous Red n White.

Then this happened ai??i??

ai???I personally have had a great season but my goal has been to win trophies with the team and to bring the club back to its glory days. Out of my huge respect for Mr. Wenger, the players and the fans I donai??i??t want to go into any details, but unfortunately in this meeting it has again become clear to me that we in many aspects disagree on the way Arsenal FC should move forward. Iai??i??ve thought long and hard about it, but I have decided not to extend my contract. You guys, the fans, have of course the right to disagree with my view and decision and I will always respect your opinions.ai???

With that, Robin van Persieai??i??s stocks amongst Arsenal fans fell like nine pins in a perfect bowling strike. More than half the Gooner lot believed that van Persie was never motivated by money and that an early and ambitious transfer market activity will almost definitely make him sign a new contract. He was close to his roots, disciplined and matured in every aspect of the game. He projected himself as a polished persona with humility decorating his scintillating displays on the pitch. Arsenal fans expected van Persie to behave like a professional, like the personality he projected.

Took One Statement to Lose All respect!

.

Money vs Loyalty

Then that thing happened! That thing which throws loyalty, love and attachment out of the window! Manchester City came calling with an irrefutable offer. Money changes footballers, changes their priorities, changes their ethics, makes them gulp down integrity and throw away allegiance towards anything. The operative word used to masquerade the immorality of this entire procedure is ai???ambitionai???. Van Persie cited the fact that his ai???ambitionsai??i?? donai??i??t match with that of Arsenalai??i??s! Throughout last season, he kept on telling the fans and the manager that some ai???classyai??i?? additions to this Arsenal squad, which finished third last season can help them win silverware this season.

Arsene ai???deliveredai???, with two top-class signings in German International Lukas Podolski and French International Olivier Giroud. The management even promoted Steve Bould to the position of assistant manager as Pat Rice departed. Many believe that Bould is one conceivable answer to Arsenalai??i??s defensive problems ai??i?? the man is capable of disciplining this leaky defence of Arsenal. Even after this, van Persieai??i??s ai???ambitionsai??i?? didnai??i??t match that of Arsene and Gazidis. If that is an understandable contradiction on the part of van Persie or a case of misunderstanding from fans, is, well, anybodyai??i??s guess.

It all comes down to how Arsene will handle this situation. Selling van Persie to Manchester City, ai???earning the bucksai??i?? and investing that on what is needed at Arsenal is an obvious option. But, Arsene has never done the obvious; he has always opened a bottle of champagne and thrown away the bottle, instead of pouring it into the glass. However, now is the time to act differently, strongly and quickly.He has to let emotion take the backdoor and act upon the immediate needs of Arsenal Football Club.

Players come, players impress, players go, but the club and the crest remains a constant. Robin van Persie, for whom a fan said ai???was one contract signing away from being a legend at Arsenalai???, may think he has done the smartest thing in the world by making a diplomatic announcement behind the back of the management, but in actuality, he has taken a hot hammer with the pointed end and dropped it on his toes. Van Persie has lost it all – respect, love and whatever chemistry he had with fans. Bouchra van Persie will no longer find any pleasure in shopping in the London malls, Shaqueel will no longer have hundreds of internet groups dedicated to him. Arsenal not only respected a player, it embraced an entire family. Now, all that is gone!

He is no more Arsenal’s poster-boy! Bye van Persie! Arsenal moves on!

****

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10 Responses to “Arsenal At CrossRoads – Of Robin van Persie, Money And That Thing Called Loyalty”

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  1. Romanov Tsar says:

    Arsenal are over 100 years and still going strong.Therefore we cant moan the departure of 28 year old boy.Go for money boy! You are not first person on Earth 2 love it.We also do!!

  2. The BearMan says:

    You piece was written beautifully but I find myself disagreeing with your logic!

    It take a certain type of individual to cut of their nose to spite their face and in the process retains a higher level of integrity which few can every contemplate. RvP stands head over heals of all the legends Arsenal has ever produced. He was willing to throw away everything to challenge his club to shake off the losers mentality and label we have been branded with these past 7 years.

    UnSong heroes like this comes once in a generation, others keep silent and lick arse!

    • CalPete says:

      You make some good points ( although “RvP stands head over heals of all the legends Arsenal has ever produced” is bit OTT). I am sure the players like the fans would love Usmanov to buy the club and pump millions into it. Unless Arsenal can afford to compete on salaries they will not be able to compete on the pitch and that’s my interpretation of his comments and actions.

  3. The BearMan says:

    It is time for every Blogger to call for the club to publish the minutes of the meeting between Wenger, Ivan and RvP, hence the reason the club request RvP to wear a gag at Euro 2012!!!

  4. CalPete says:

    If only it were that simple. Football has been changed by the huge salaries on offer in many clubs around Europe. RVP is arguably one of the top 10 players in Europe but is not one of the top 50 earners. Imagine what it must feel like to play 6 to 8 games a season against teams were the reserve right back is earning more than you. This is also a problem throughout the team because it creates a sense of inferiority and makes it harder to beat those teams. That is in essence why the high salaries are afforded. Happy, well motivated players become winners. Arsenal either need to modernize their salary structure to compete or accept that the likes of RVP will move away when it suits them. Not an easy task, but they could start by reducing the size of the squad, the second biggest in the EPL. Since Arshavin is the highest paid Gunner exactly what amount of loyalty does that buy from RVP?

  5. Aditya Sharma says:

    Here’s my take: RVP has done nothing wrong. He’s dedicated some Arsenal 8 years of his life… that’s about the same amount of time Henry spent there. He’s performed to the best of his abilities, and has stayed on year after year despite a lack of trophies. When he decided to move, he’s done it in a straight-forward manner, announcing that he won’t extend his contract half-way through the transfer window (imagine if he had stalled till the end.. Arsene would have gone nuts looking for replacements).
    His career is his career, and as long as he isn’t disrespectful to the club (see: NasrI), I really don’t see any reason for Gunner fans to hate him

  6. @Aditya, my friend, you have got it completely wrong in the first part of ur statement!

    – “He’s dedicated some Arsenal 8 years of his life… that’s about the same amount of time Henry spent there. He’s performed to the best of his abilities, and has stayed on year after year despite a lack of trophies. ”

    van Persie DID NOT perform to the best of his abilities for 7/8th of his career with Arsenal. He has an average of 9 goals before 2011 started. That is the best of his abilities according to you? Then, you truly consider him to be a joke! 😀 Please dont compare him with Henry. Thierry performed consistently (now thats the actual consistency, averaging more than 20 goals every freaking season) over the 7 years and the last year was an injury-plagued one!

    • Aditya Sharma says:

      Fair enough .. point taken. Though I guess I still have a little more respect for him, especially when compared to the likes of Nasri and Torres, who I feel both handled their moves really badly