Robin van Persie represents more than just the latest player to bang his head against the ceiling of Arsenal’s rigid wage structure, then decide to find an exit rather than a way to live whilst crouching. Van Persie is the last remaining link to the Invincibles team that every Arsenal fan sees when they close their eyes and try to recall their last moment of true, undiluted happiness. He has embodied every step of the Arsene Wenger project, from an overpaid youth prospect to underpaid finished article, and has recently taken to the role of club captain with an unexpected commitment and seriousness. If any player is worth breaking Arsenal’s wage structure for, it is Van Persie. If the loss of any player might finally cast the recent policies of the Arsenal management and board as a failure, it is Van Persie. This conundrum represents a high-stakes gamble for Arsenal, a choice between faith in their structure or faith in their last remaining talisman.
On a similar note, although it is the financial realities of life in Italy that may have tipped the Milan owner’s hand into authorising the sale of Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Paris Saint Germain, the deliberations must still have been long and hard – and not just because austerity and Silvio Berlusconi make for as uneasy bedfellows as Bradley Wiggins and contemporary trends in facial hair.
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