Arsenal Fans Will Get The Last Laugh At Robin Van Persie’s 2012 Transfer to Manchester United

Robin van Persie’s transfer from Arsenal to Manchester United in August 2012 was thought by many to reinforce a pecking order in English football, where Manchester United would always be at or near the top of the table while the Gunners would not compete for honors anytime soon.

On an episode of World Soccer Radio in August 2012, Nick Geber and I both voiced a minority opinion that Arsenal getting £22m for a player that at the time was 29 years-old and had a terrible injury record could help revitalize Arsenal. I also voiced the opinion that Van Persie’s personal volatility could have negatively impacted the development of younger players in Arsenal’s plans and thus getting him out of the Emirates for a hefty sum of cash was probably always going to be a good deal. For those opinions, we were endlessly mocked on social media. And after a year, who could blame those mocking us?

A year and a half later, we sit knowing Manchester United won the title in 2012-13 thanks largely to RVP. But perhaps also feeling they would have won the title with or without him, given the margin by which they won the league. His transfer set Danny Welbeck’s development back at least a season, and perhaps created the last rupture between Sir Alex Ferguson and Wayne Rooney.

This season, Arsenal has been at the top or near the top of the table since August, while the Red Devils have been moving from one crisis to another thanks in large part to Van Persie’s unavailability due to injury. The Dutch striker is injured again now without anyone really knowing when he will be back.

Manchester United manager Moyes conceded on Saturday that he would not want to put a date on Van Persie’s return to action. Much like his time at Arsenal, the Dutchman is facing a long lay off just at the time his team needs results the most. The Gunners reliance on Van Persie often times led to rough patches in the winter that became a common media narrative about Arsene Wenger’s failings. Long-term injuries and other fitness issues would repeatedly deem Van Persie unavailable at key moments for the Gunners.

Each and every year Arsenal would somehow find its way into the top four and a Champions League spot. While Manchester United could conceivably cut into the lead at the top of the table and still chase down the title, like Arsenal in those years, the only realistic possibility is to make the top four.

Meanwhile in North London, having jettisoned Van Persie, the Gunners are chasing a title, having last sat behind Van Persie’s men in the table in August, after the second matchday of the season.

No question can exist that Van Persie was very solid last season for Manchester United with the exception of a rough patch of about ten games in February and March. It is also true that Arsenal struggled to finish fourth in the league. But this season, the transfer seems to have bogged Manchester United down while giving Arsene Wenger the opportunity to develop more options and a team spirit that had eluded the Gunners in recent years.

When the postmortem on this transfer is written, Nick Geber and I very well may have been right with our prognostication, something people laughed at a year ago.

Editor’s note: For the latest Gunners news, analysis and opinion, visit the Arsenal team page.

21 thoughts on “Arsenal Fans Will Get The Last Laugh At Robin Van Persie’s 2012 Transfer to Manchester United”

  1. It’s possible that Arsenal will one day get the last laugh, but at present since leaving the situation is:

    RVP has a winners medal, United won their 20th title, Fergie signed off as he wanted.

    Arsenal finished 4th.

    Now I do believe Arsenal will finish above United this season, but they won’t win the league, nor the Champions League.

    So I’d wager that it’ll come down – 2 years after the transfer – United will have 1 premier league title, and Arsenal will have a higher league position finish.

    Not sure it’s that laughable.

    1. Basically you have parroted what the above article states. However,I agree, if this is what you are saying,that Arsenal may still not have a title. That could very well be. I think they are a solid team, but a solid team, with the parity that seems to have taken the league by storm this year, ensures that the race will by no means be a cake-walk for any one team this year. As an Arsenal fan I find this slightly upsetting, but as a football fan it will make for a heck of a great last half season.

  2. RVP got what he wanted out of the deal, which was a trophy.

    I can assure you Arsenal would take him back in a second. I’m not really sure what the last laugh would be at this point.

    Unless Arsenal win the European Cup, there is no last laugh for anyone.

    1. Arsenal will NOT take him back, he would be booed from The Emirates. The fans are too passionate about their beloved Gunners to accept this man, the man with a little boys voice in his head, to come back.

        1. Not comparing the two, bad analogy. Suarez never played for Arsenal, van Pursie turned his back, big difference.

  3. Like others have said, there really is no ‘last laugh’. Fergie knew he needed a proven scorer in order to help secure the title and RVP wanted to have a winners medal before he calls it a day. Now unless Arsenal get a trophy for finishing 4th, I can’t really see what last laugh they’re getting? I think Arsenal will finish no higher than 3rd (and no lower than 4th) this season but is that enough to give them the last laugh? Not in my book.

    I gather from peoples posts when you have something published on here that you’re a City supporter? I’ve never really got on to it myself but to be honest it’s glaringly obvious with this piece.

    1. You maybe right. RVP scored lots of winners last season but he also had that stretch of something like 2.5 months when he never scored and Rooney carried the team.

  4. “When the postmortem on this transfer is written, Nick Geber and I very well may have been right with our prognostication, something people laughed at a year ago.”

    Or then again, people could laugh even more because you could look very silly for blowing your own trumpet 4 months before the seasons finished. Just a thought.

  5. RVP was signed to win the title last year. They won the title. That is Mission Accomplished for Man. United.

    In no way is this like the Herschel Walker trade in the NFL, when Minnesota traded the universe for Walker in a trade with Dallas. That trade would resurrect the Dallas franchise back into a dynasty. Dallas got the last laugh, if there was a laugh to be had. The transfer of Van Persie for just 22 million pounds really isn’t much to brag about.

  6. Im afraid Kartik is right in this case. Yes united won the title and yes SAF got what he wanted, but we only benefited from it in the short run. RVP is 30 years old, on massive wages and has a history of injury problems. That is what Kartik is alluding to.

  7. Kartik and Nick’s version of “on a long enough timeline the survival rate for everyone drops to zero”, is rather hilarious.

    As the others have said: Van Persie was brought in to Win United the league THAT YEAR and the Dutchman left the Emirates because he wanted silverware. The fact the Ferguson got him to stay mostly healthy for that title-winning season, was a lottery ticket in itself. If Van Persie were to never kick another football ever again, Utd would have still come out ahead.

    If Utd had given up half their youth system for an “aging, injury prone striker” in an American style style trade, perhaps your argument would have been with merit. Ferguson wanted Rooney to play deeper, regardless of who the center-forward would have been and Welbeck’s “development” rightfully took a back seat to his side winning their 20th league title.

    Van Persie is not Ian Wright. Arsenal was never psychologically dependent on his goals, ironically because of his injuries, thus he never stymied anyone’s growth at the Emirates, blame Wenger’s transfer policy for that.

    Arsenal being title contender this season, probably has more to do with 3 of the top 4 clubs having new managers than anything else. The fact that Wenger has not created a gap on top of the League by now, says a lot.

    1. “If Van Persie were to never kick another football ever again, Utd would have still come out ahead.”

      SAF and RVP would have still come out ahead. Not United. Just one EPL title doesn’t that much for a club of United magnitude. The golden era has come to an end and everyone is getting their parachutes out. SAF, RVP, even Moyes.

  8. There’s no guarantee the Gunners will win this year.
    Also, hindsight is always 20/20: you’ll never know that Fergie would retire. No one would know that Moyes will become United manager with his supposedly hard intense training sessions that are blamed by some people to cause a lot of injuries in the United squad.

  9. More ramblings from this half wit. Uniteds decline is nothing to do with RVP. It is purely about replacing Fergie with Gollum, then getting rid of the entire backroom staff and employing inferior replacements.
    Arsenal will end up fourth as usual.

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