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|SoccerAnchor EPL Transfer Special: Where will Arsenal’s Robin van Persie end up?|
SoccerAnchor has already taken a look at what the respective clubs need on the transfer market, but where could some of the big-name players end up by August? Kieran Francis explores where Arsenal talisman and captain Robin Van Persie could be come the start of the 2012/2013 season....
The supremely clinical Van Persie swept all other English Premier League strikers before him on his way to 30 league goals in 38 games; holding aloft the EPL Golden Boot award. It was an extraordinary season as he scored nearly 50 percent of Arsenal's goals scored (74) in the EPL this season. This illustrates why Arsenal didn't compete for silverware in 2011/2012; because Van Persie was a one-man show.
The Dutch striker has been threatening to score huge amounts of goals for about three years but was continually cut down by injuries. In 09/10 he managed 9 goals in 14 games and last season he hit 18 goals in 19 games in between spending extended periods on the sideline.
This season, Van Persie was able to get his body right and started 37 of Arsenal's 38 games, coming on as a substitute in the other. This makes him an extremely tantalising prospect for Europe's elite clubs, as he will bring 30+ goals to any club bar a recurrence of his injury problems.
Van Persie was frustrated by the lack of support he received this season. This was emphasised by the fact Theo Walcott was Arsenal's second top scorer with 9 goals. The Dutchman is reaching the twilight of his career and it currently looks as if Arsenal are still a little way off being prominent silverware challengers.
His future is subject to intense speculation and has some of Europe's richest clubs as his potential suitors. This has caused Arsenal to slap a media ban on their captain talking about his future as they attempt to water down speculation as the European Championships approach.
Will Van Persie be tempted to leave Arsenal for a higher wage packet and more chance of silverware? Or will he stick around as captain of the club and help develop the youngsters into title contenders?
Reports in recent days have indicated that the Guus Hiddink-managed Russian club has offered Van Persie £300,000 a week over three years. That equates to over £45 million during the duration of the rumoured contract.
The mega-rich Dagestan based club would have no troubles in paying any transfer fee that Arsenal slapped on their captain.
Manager Hiddink has been given a war-chest of funds by billionaire owner Suleyman Kerimov as Anzhi look to win the Russian Premier League next season and break into the UEFA Champions League.
If Van Persie signed for Anzhi, he would be among the best paid players in the world but won't be featuring in the Champions League next season as Anzhi have not qualified for the 2012/2013 edition.
The Anzhi project to become one of the best teams in the world is still quite a few years away from completion and Van Persie will have likely retired by the time Anzhi is competing with Europe's best.
CHANCE OF SIGNING: 0%
Despite the fact Anzhi could make Van Persie the best paid player in the world, they aren't competing for enough prestigious trophies and most likely won't be until Van Persie's career is over. The Dutchman will only want to make the step-up from Arsenal, not a step down.
The newly crowned Premier League champions seem to be in the best position of the chasing clubs to sign Van Persie. Reports state that Sheik Mansour is willing to pay Van Persie more than £250,000 a week, which will make him the highest paid player at the club ahead of Yaya Toure and Carlos Tevez.
City, with their endless financial wealth, will be able to pay almost any valuation that Arsenal slaps on their captain. However, now that City have obtained success, they are unlikely to let clubs push them around with valuations as they should be an enticing destinations for many of the world's top players.
The blue side of Manchester could do with another centre-forward as there is questions marks over the future of their supremely talented but problematic strikers Tevez and Mario Balotelli. The form of Edin Dzeko throughout the season was also worrying.
Manchester City would give Van Persie the chance to immediately compete and be a favourite for every competition they play in. This would mean that the Dutchman could secure the success he craves, much like Samir Nasri did when he left Arsenal.
CHANCE OF SIGNING: 20%
City are the most likely club of Van Persie's suitors to sign the Dutchman. If he leaves Arsenal, Etihad Stadium would be the one destination that could afford his transfer fee, wages and give him the opportunity to earn silverware. However, I think his loyalty to Arsenal will scupper any such moves.
The Catalans are the one club who Van Persie would move to if given the chance. Currently, it's the pinnacle of a players career to play for the current Barcelona side that's playing such beautiful football.
While Lionel Messi scores for fun playing out wide and in behind the main striker, Barcelona don't have a hugely prolific front man leading the line. You would expect Van Persie would slot in seamlessly into the Catalan strikeforce and form a devastating partnership with Messi.
There have been some rumours linking Barcelona with Van Persie but there has also been just as many rumours hinting that the Catalans don't need him and will not make a play for him.
Barcelona are known to dislike paying exorbitant fees for players and it's likely Van Persie would cost upwards of £25 million.
The Catalans would give Van Persie the chance to compete for the Spanish La Liga and will be a hot favourite to clinch the Champions League title, an honour that would surely entice Van Persie.
CHANCE OF SIGNING: 10%
While Van Persie and Barcelona would be a perfect fit, it seems as if the Catalans aren't willing to break the bank to bring the Dutchman to the club. As a result, I think it's unlikely that the transfer will happen as Barcelona would be able to cope with their current squad and possibly a cheaper signing.
REMAIN AT ARSENAL
Losing Van Persie would be a catastrophic blow to Arsenal's future aspirations. Their captain has carried the team this season with his extraordinary goal record and lack of support from other attacking options.
If the Gunners were to lose their talisman, it would also be a crushing blow to their supporters, who have already seen Nasri and Cesc Fabregas walk out of their club for greener pastures.
You get the feeling that Van Persie, as captain, loves Arsenal but is frustrated by their lack of progress over the past few seasons. The signing of German international striker Lukas Podolski may give Van Persie some support for next season and if other signings are brought in, this may convince the Dutch striker to re-sign with the club.
With a few new signings and some development from their younger players, the Gunners should have a side that is capable of competing for the Pemier League title. However, they are probably a few seasons away from being Champions League contenders. These scenarios will be playing on Van Persie's mind as he makes the biggest decision of his career.
CHANCE OF RE-SIGNING: 70%
Van Persie has been at Arsenal for more than 8 years and through Arsene Wenger's coaching and nurturing, has emerged as a leader and one of the world's best strikers. You can tell that he loves the club and I believe that the club will present him with the right set of circumstances to continue his stay at the Emirates. Whether Arsenal are able to fulfill those promises is probably the question that is at the forefront of Van Persie's mind.