James Lawton: Loss of Wenger's last great protégé opens way for Usmanov to cash in on fans' frustrations

For so much of last season the Dutchman seemed like one of Wenger's last links with the days when he could fashion players to compete in the very highest company

Robin van Persie's almost formal defection to Manchester City is only sinister and depressing if you still hold out any hope that there will ever again be something vaguely resembling a level playing field at the top of English football.

Or if you cling to the idea that Uefa's Financial Fair Play regulations have more than a snowflake's chance in hell of producing any genuine bite once the corporate lawyers of City and Chelsea have done some of their best work.

Indeed, Van Persie's impending departure – behind the usual platitudes about his need to find a more competitive environment – is not only a fresh denuding of Arsenal; it has also made them still more vulnerable to a hostile takeover bid from Uzbek oligarch Alisher Usmanov.

Usmanov, having passed the Premier League's fit and proper persons regulation on the way to a 30 per cent holding of Arsenal shares, seemed more than anything set on improving the climate for such a move when he effectively trashed the current business model of American owner Stan Kroenke.

Usmanov agonises over the plight of manager Arsène Wenger, who polishes the diamonds, then sees them disappear – mostly into the swag bag of the new reigning champions City.

The near certainty of Van Persie following Samir Nasri, Kolo Touré and Gaël Clichy to east Manchester, is guaranteed to cause Wenger almost as much pain as the growing impact of his great protégé Cesc Fabregas for both Barcelona and Spain.

Wenger's torment simply deepens in intensity. For a little while, he refused to face the growing futility of his attempt to preside over a financially sane business plan while at the same time grooming a quality of player to retain Arsenal's foothold among the elite of English and European football.

Now he has to accept that the enterprise is pretty much on par with attempting to climb Mont Blanc in carpet slippers.

Usmanov scorns the idea that Arsenal can continue to behave responsibly at the bank and competitively on the field – and, with a publicity machine that in the past has worked prodigiously to enhance his reputation, he is no doubt planning a campaign guaranteed to exploit the growing exasperation of Arsenal fans.

The loss of Van Persie carries the same desperate implications that came with the departures of Fabregas and Nasri. Wenger swore that he could keep the players he saw as the future of the club, then found himself scrambling desperately to fill some of the empty spaces in the last days of the transfer window.

The Van Persie affair has the feeling of the end of something. For so much of last season the Dutchman seemed like one of Wenger's last links with the days when he could fashion players to compete in the very highest company, and the burden Van Persie carried so brilliantly at times was all the heavier with the injury to Jack Wilshere.

Now Van Persie's gift of renewal has been withdrawn. He is about to become the latest possession of City, the champions and buyers of almost everything they fancy.

Arts and Entertainment
The teaser trailer has provoked more questions than answers
filmBut what is Bond's 'secret' that Moneypenny is talking about?
Sport
football This was Kane’s night, even if he played just a small part of it
Travel
travel Dreamland Margate, Britain’s oldest amusement park, is set to reopen
News
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Founders James Brown and Tim Southwell with a mock-up of the first ever ‘Loaded’ magazine in 1994
media
News
Threlfall says: 'I am a guardian of the reality keys. I think I drive directors nuts'
people
Voices
voices The group has just unveiled a billion dollar plan to help nurse the British countryside back to health
News
The Westgate, a gay pub in the centre of Gloucester which played host to drag queens, has closed
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss