It would be an understatement to say that Arsenal fans aren’t exactly welcoming when it comes to former players.
Whether it be Cesc Fabregas or Bacary Sagna, the north London side have earned a reputation for giving a far from welcome reception to 99% of their former players who return to the Emirates Stadium after leaving the Arsenal, and one name who knows this more than any other is former striker and captain Robin van Persie.
Signed from Feyenoord in 2005 for a then reported fee of £2.5 million, Arsene Wenger had plans of converting the then 19-year-old attacker from a left-winger into a centre-forward, something the Frenchman did to Thierry Henry six years earlier, and the first few years at Arsenal were fairly underwhelming for van Persie.
43 goals in all competitions in his first four seasons might have been a good return for a player that was signed on the cheap, but not many fans would have expected the now Dutch international to become the player he would be a few years down the line.
After missing the majority of the 2009/10 season with an ankle injury, van Persie looked to be just another run of the mill Arsenal player, talented on the ball and technically brilliant but cursed with injuries and setbacks, but then 2011 rolled around.
With Cesc Fabregas departing for Barcelona that summer, van Persie was promoted to captain for the 2011/12 season, and coming off the back of his most productive year in an Arsenal shirt, there were big expectations for the Dutch striker, and to say he delivered would be an understatement.
Van Persie single-handily fired Arsenal to a top-four finish as the striker hit 37 goals in all competitions for the north London side, 30 of which were in the league as the Dutch forward won the PFA Player of the Year award, the first Gunners man to claim the prize since Henry in 2004.
But as we all know, things between van Persie and Arsenal didn’t end well.
With a year remaining on his deal, speculation of whether or not the striker will renew was aplenty in the summer of 2012, and when it was announced van Persie wouldn’t sign a new contract, it felt like a shot to heart for Arsenal fans, which was made even worse when the striker moved to Manchester United for just £24 million.
To make matters even worse for Arsenal fans, van Persie continued his inspired form from the previous season into United’s team, and unsurprisingly, the striker led the Red Devils to their 20th league title and their final one under Sir Alex Fergurson.
It would prove to be van Persie’s last great year in England, though, as injuries and managerial changes saw the striker fall down the pecking order in Manchester, and in 2015, the Dutchman moved to Turkey to play for Fenerbahce.
The Dutch striker could have been an Arsenal legend, but swayed by the temptation of success, van Persie remains a dark figure in the history of the club, a player who fans can’t seek forgiveness from, and a name that supporters are more than happy to see the last of in professional football.
Arsenal fans, where do you stand on van Perise? Let us know!Like what the TT have on offer? Sign up for more notifications!