Who needs the magic sponge? Van Persie turns to new-age healer

Despite Arsenal's doubts, the striker has flown to see a Serbian doctor who treats injuries with placenta fluids

Robin van Persie has been permitted by Arsenal to visit a Serbian doctor who has been known to use fluids from placentas to heal her patients, although the Arsenal medical department have serious misgivings over her credentials and whether she will have any effect on his ruptured ankle ligaments.

In one of the most extraordinary attempts by a footballer to recover from injury, Van Persie travelled to Belgrade yesterday to visit the clinic of Dr Marijana Kovacevic who has built a reputation among European footballers for being something of a miracle healer. She uses massage and electrolysis to treat injuries and has worked with many players from Serbia's national team

The Dutch international sought Arsenal's permission to visit Dr Kovacevic after he was recommended to her by his Netherlands team-mate Orlando Engelaar who suffered from a similar injury earlier in the season. After consultation with Colin Lewin, Arsenal's head physiotherapist, and club doctor Gary O'Driscoll, Van Persie was allowed to visit Belgrade but he is expected back in London by the end of the week

Last night Marko Pantelic, the Serbia striker who plays for Ajax told The Independent that he had been treated by Dr Kovacevic and had recommended her to his team-mates. Pantelic said: "I know that a lot of players, among them some Premier League players, come to Marijana Kovacevic for treatment, especially those from the Serbian national team.

"I have a problem with a muscle in my leg and I visited her a couple of days ago. I expect the recovery to last less then was first thought. I have been going to her for the last seven years.

"As for Robin, I strongly recommend him to come and if he follows her instructions – and this is the type of injury she can treat – he will be back playing five or six times quicker than expected. I don't know a great deal about her methods but as far as I can tell you she treats muscle, or ligaments, with electronic signals and with some placenta. She enters under the skin and treats wounded tissue."

The injury to Van Persie, sustained in a challenge with Italy's Giorgio Chiellini during the friendly on Saturday, means that Arsenal have only one fit centre-forward, Eduardo da Silva (left), for Saturday's game against Sunderland. The club said yesterday that they expected Van Persie to be out for six weeks, unless Dr Kovacevic can work her magic.

Van Persie made the announcement in a telephone interview on Sunday night with Studio Voetbal, a Dutch football television show, admitting that Dr Kovacevic – who first became known in the Netherlands when she treated the PSV Eindhoven midfielder Danko Lazovic – had some unorthodox working practices.

Van Persie said: "She is vague about her methods but I know she massages you using fluid from a placenta. I am going to try. It cannot hurt and, if it helps, it helps. A scan showed that my ankle ligament was almost completely torn off where Chiellini caught me but it was not intentional. I was lucky, it could be worse."

In Serbia there have been reports that Dr Kovacevic has been made lucrative offers for her Belgrade clinic but she has held out. In recent times Serbia has become a focal point for "medical tourism" with people from all over Europe taking advantage of the country's relatively low costs and high medical expertise to have operations carried out.

As for Arsène Wenger, he is left waiting on the fitness of three of his four strikers with Nicklas Bendtner out until the early part of next month following groin surgery. The club are still awaiting Theo Walcott's return from knee injury and he has a chance of playing against Chelsea at the Emirates a week on Sunday.

The loss of Van Persie at such a critical stage of the season is the blow that will be hardest of all for Wenger's side to bear. After the departure of Emmanuel Adebayor in the summer, Van Persie has looked the most impressive player in Wenger's team with 15 goals already this season in a central striking role in the new 4-3-3 formation.

Eduardo scored twice for Croatia in their 5-0 win over Liechtenstein at the weekend and said afterwards that he believed his form had turned the corner since a poor performance against Tottenham this month. He said: "Against Tottenham I missed one big chance in particular, when I was one-on-one with the goalkeeper.

"But I will not worry about that chance, I feel strong in my head and body. It is good I was in the position to have the chance because, if you keep doing that, then the goals will come."

Tough breaks: Van Persie's record

Previous injury problems
Jan 06: Broken toe. One month out.
Jan 07: Broken metatarsal. Season.
Oct 07: Twisted knee. Two months.
Jan 08: Thigh strain. Two months.

*Games Van Persie could miss
Sunderland PL (a) , Standard Liège CL (h), Chelsea PL (h), Manchester City LC (a), Stoke City PL (h), Olympiakos CL (a), Liverpool PL (a), Burnley PL (a), Hull PL (h), Aston Villa PL (h).

*PL Premier League fixtures, CL Champions League, LC League Cup.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest in Sport
Sport
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

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map