02 July 2015

The returns of Nasri and van Persie: prodigal or pathetic?

They were to be the core of Arsenal's renaissance, technically gifted players capable of turning a game on its head through individal flourishes or team chemistry. Samir Nasri and Robin van Persie, along with Cesc Fàbregas, comprised one of the most potent attacking trios in the Prem...until each of them bolted in acrimonious, avaricious ways. Last summer, of course, we had the Cesc soap opera, culminating in his return to the wrong London team. This summer, we can sit back, put our feet up, and enjoy the not-at-all-sad unraveling of the other two. If the stories are to be believed, Nasri wants to come back to Arsenal, and van Persie is to be sold "secretly" to Fenerbahçe. True or not, the mere existence of the stories is delicious to me and, I hope, to you. Let's roll in the mud a bit, shall we?

Nasri, who left in 2011 for Man City (just nine days after  Fàbregas forced his way back to Barcelona), has been linked with a return to Arsenal by Football Insider in a story that offers little in the way of direct evidence, other than Nasri's warm feelings towards Arsène, saying "I'm close to Arsène Wenger, I've always said he is my football father...he's the best manager I ever had in my career." Beyond that, though, it's slim pickings. It does derive from the larger possibility that the entire Man City squad could face a massive overhaul after failing to win the Prem or make much progress in the FA Cup or Champions League. For Nasri, it has to have been frustrating, going from one of Arsenal's brightest future stars to one of Man City's options. His contract runs through 2019, but at 28, he has to wonder what his future holds. He might be young enough to have options, but is he good enough to play for Arsenal?

Van Persie, on the other hand, is a shell of his former self. He'll be 32 in a few weeks but looks aged and decrepit. He's now two seasons removed from his peak, when he scored 30 league goals for us in 2011-12 and 26 for Man U the following year. Age, injury, and attitude have all conspired to undermine him to the point that Holland teamamte Pierre Van Hooijdonk claims that he "received information from Turkey about Robin and Fenerbahçe. You knew that United had sent people to test the water for a move," perhaps during the January window. His contract runs out in 2016, and somehow it doesn't seem like he'll be able to use that as leverage as he did with Arsenal. That deal may now come back to haunt him, as it's unlikely that any club will be willing to pay him that £200k weekly wage. It's an albatross around his neck, and for as much as we seek a striker, he no longer seems like a stark upgrade on Giroud.

While each man can boast of having won more silverware than they had at Arsenal, those boasts ring hollow when stood up to what they traded to get it. I won't wax rhapsodic about what could have been had they stayed; I'm sure you can imagine it for yourselves. Instead, I'll imagine them as those fleeting glory days of theirs circle the drain like used toothpaste, together with the adoration and self-respect they might have enjoyed. Each of them will continue to chase the next big payday and eventually come to realise that the cynicism that motivated them to leave will earn them the same cynical treatment in return. They once deemed that Arsenal was not good enough for them. Now that the shoe is on the other foot, I'm sure they'll appreciate the ironic turn of events.

Our midfield is so stacked now that, even if we were interested in Nasri, he'd have to accept a spot on the bench. While it's true that we're still looking for a world-class striker, van Persie no longer qualifies for that label. I'm sure they'll each find a club willing to give them a tidy weekly wage, but it's unlikely that either one will get his first-choice destination. It sure won't be Arsenal.

Thanks, as always, for your visit. Feel free to share your thoughts below--you can log in with twitter, facebook, or gmail; or you can comment as a guest with any valid email.