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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Sport
Louis van Gaal watches over Nani
transfers
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
transfersColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn