Van Persie playing like a man who wants to stay

 

It is less than a month since the obituaries were being written, reluctantly, respectfully, but written nonetheless. The era of Arsène Wenger, went the consensus, was over. Out of contention in all competitions, humiliated in Milan, with next season's Europa League beckoning. Even at the Emirates Le Professeur was being doubted.

Four victories later and Wenger's Arsenal are not only again playing the best football in the country, they are showing a sense of belief and determination rarely associated with the team since the Invincibles. Tottenham, Milan, Liverpool and Newcastle United have been beaten and an automatic Champions League qualifying place – at Spurs' expense, is in sight. Senior players such as Tomas Rosicky are in the form of their Arsenal careers, Laurent Koscielny and Thomas Vermaelen are forming a solid defensive partnership, and youngsters such as Theo Walcott, Alex Song and Wojciech Szczesny are maturing nicely. There is even the probability of Wenger signing an established premium player in Lukas Podolski.

All that remains for Arsenal to be regarded as genuine challengers next season is for Jack Wilshere to recover full fitness, Gervinho to enjoy the second-season blossoming which players recruited from France's Ligue 1 often experience – and Robin van Persie to sign a new contract.

Van Persie is reported as having already agreed terms with Manchester City, who know they have the funds to persuade Arsenal's board to overrule Wenger, as they did with Samir Nasri. Yet while his agent may have had preliminary discussions, Van Persie does not look like a man preparing to pack his bags. His commitment is total. The verbal spat with Newcastle's Tim Krul on Monday night may have been ugly but it epitomised his desire.

There is nothing unusual in a player wishing to leave a club on a high. Cesc Fabregas strained every sinew as he sought to mark his last season at Arsenal with silverware. Yet in the end, his season petered away along with Arsenal's challenge. Van Persie, however, seems to have found a new intensity after the debacle in San Siro, as if the captain had taken it upon himself to haul his club out of their malaise.

The Dutchman will be 29 when next season begins and he knows his time to harvest trophies is limited. To date, he has won the Uefa Cup with Feyenoord and the FA Cup with Arsenal, a meagre return for a player of such ability. Van Persie's game is not dependent on pace, but footballers who play with their back to goal are always at risk of injury and his body has been so fragile in the past he has never exceeded this season's 28 league games.

If Manchester City do lure Van Persie, it will because he believes they are his best chance of winning things, not because they offer the highest wage packet. He is not understood to be mercenary and, partly because of his background as the son of artists, is aware there is more to life than riches.

There is no doubt that Van Persie's preference is to stay and lift trophies at Arsenal, with a team that has grown up around him and a support which adores him. The question that will exercise him come May is whether that is feasible.

The way Arsenal are playing at present it is, but after so many false dawns Van Persie is unlikely to want to tie himself to a long-term deal. The obvious solution is a one-year contract extension until summer 2014. The club may not like that, but Van Persie holds the cards, and no one could claim that he has let the current uncertainty over his future affect him.

News
news

Emergency call 'started off dumb, but got pretty serious'

News
people

Britain First criticised for using actress's memory to draw attention to their 'hate-filled home page'

News
Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis
people

Thought you'd seen it all after the Jeremy Paxman interview?

Arts and Entertainment
On The Apprentice, “serious” left the room many moons ago and yet still we watch
tv

Greatest mystery about the hit BBC1 show is how it continues to be made at all, writes Grace Dent

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
Funds raised from the sale of poppies help the members of the armed forces with financial difficulties
voicesLindsey German: The best way of protecting soldiers is to stop sending them into conflicts
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from David Ayer's 'Fury'
film

"History is violent," says the US Army tank commander Don "Wardaddy" Collier

Arts and Entertainment
Liam and Zayn of One Direction play with a chimpanzee on the set of their new video for 'Steal My Girl'
music

Animal welfare charities have urged the boy band to cut the scenes

News
The Edge and his wife, Morleigh Steinberg, at the Academy Awards in 2014
peopleGuitarist faces protests over plan to build mansions in Malibu
News
peopleFox presenter gives her less than favourable view of women in politics
News
George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin married in Venice yesterday
peopleAmal and George Clooney 'planning third celebration in England'
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley at the premiere of Laggie at Toronto Film Festival 2014
theatreActress 'to make Broadway debut'
Property
One bedroom terraced house for sale, Richmond Avenue, Islington, London N1. On with Winkworths for £275,000.
property
Sport
Erik Lamela celebrates his goal
football

Argentinian scored 'rabona' wonder goal for Tottenham in Europa League – see it here

Voices
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
voicesNigel Farage: Where is the Left’s outrage over the sexual abuse of girls in the North of England?
News
i100
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

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker