Robin van Persie's bold move of announcing that he had no intention of signing a new contract at the Emirates has caused a storm that threatens to rock the foundations at Arsenal. For the second straight summer, the club is faced with losing its captain and most influential player, bringing into question the strategy of both the club's manager and owner.
After eight years at Arsenal, Robin van Persie has indicated that he sees his future elsewhere.
Seizing on the opportunity that Van Persie's disillusionment with Arsenal's future direction has provided, major shareholders Alisher Usmanov and and Farhad Moshiri, who own close to 30 percent of the club's shares through their investment company Red & White, have launched a stinging attack on owner Stan Kroenke.
The open letter, obtained by the Associated Press, criticizes the tight financial restrictions placed upon Arsene Wenger
"This policy is leading to the loss of our best players, often to our main competitors, and even causes the players themselves to question their future at the club and the club's ambitions," the letter reads. Usmanov has been controversially denied a place on the club's board, but his latest comments are sure to endear him to a large percentage of Arsenal fans.
After the departure of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri a year ago, Arsenal are preparing for a similar scenario to wreak havoc on their preparations for the new season once more. Arsenal have said that they "are confident that he will fulfill his commitments to the club," though there are likely to be further developments in the coming days. If Van Persie's decision not to sign a new contract cannot be reversed it is hard to envisage the club holding an unhappy player to his contract before losing him on a free transfer next summer.
The speculation in the British press has already turned to Van Persie's next destination. Manchester City are thought to be favorites to poach yet more Arsenal talent, though Manchester United are also said to be keen. While the Gunners will doubtless prefer to sell the Dutchman abroad, Juventus are unlikely to be willing to stump up the required financial package and the interest of Real Madrid and Barcelona is said to have waned.
If Van Persie does indeed walk through the exit door at the Emirates then the fans will need to be satiated with signs that the club can still compete for the game's biggest prizes. Rennes midfielder Yann M'Vila has long been seen as the club's primary target, but recent reports suggest that Wenger's interest has significantly diminished. The latest words from Rennes general manager Pierre Dreossi do nothing to change this perception.
"He is ready to leave," Dreossi said, according to ESPN. "For the time being, there have been a few expressions of interest, but no concrete offers that would be sufficient for M'Vila to leave.
"The transfer window has only just started, so we will wait for the offers to arrive. He has real value, even if he had an average European Championship."
If indeed Wenger has decided that M'Vila's disciplinary problems represent too much of a risk, then Etienne Capoue is considered to be the favored alternative. The 21-year-old's manager at Toulouse, Alain Casanova accepts that the French club may not be able to hold onto the midfielder for much longer.
"I hope to keep him, but if we get an offer we can't refuse we will have to negotiate," Casanova said, according to French publication Le 10 Sport.
"He's a very good footballer with the potential to succeed in a great team in the best league in the world."
The Gunners have been linked to another Frenchman in Lyon goalkeeper Hugo Lloris. The Ligue 1 club's president Jean-Michel Aulas has said that he will be allowed to leave this summer if a sufficient offer arrives.
"Hugo told me he would like to leave if an offer comes in from one of the biggest five clubs in Europe," Aulas said, according to the Daily Mail.
"If one of these clubs makes an offer that matches his market value, in other words 20m (£16 million) Euros then he can go.
"If there is no offer before July 15 he will remain at the club for the coming season.
"For the moment there has been no offer from Arsenal or anywhere else."
With Wojciech Szczesny currently ensconced as Arsenal's No.1, a big-money move for Lloris remains unlikely.
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