Robin van Persie has insisted that there was no bad blood left at Arsenal after he joined Manchester United in 2012.
The Dutchman, having romped to the Premier League ‘Golden Boot’ the season before, joined Man United for around £35m after Sir Alex Ferguson lost the title to Manchester City – who also expressed interest in the striker – in the final seconds of the 2011/12 campaign.
And he duly fired Man United to Premier League glory, netting 26 league goals and ensuring Ferguson went out on a high.
Following Alexis Sanchez’s move to Old Trafford, which has inevitably started a war between Arsenal fans and one of their best ever players in Thierry Henry, Van Persie made it clear that the process of leaving the Emirates was amicable.
“I hear the trouble with other players when they make a transfer,” he said. “They leave with the doors banging, when they walk out. That was never the case when our ways separated.”
“Arsene and I spoke about everything with dignity. The club and I did not agree on some things. That’s life. Arsene is just the best manager in the world. This is why I want him to be successful with Arsenal. He deserves it.
“I owe everything to Arsene Wenger. He has been crucial for me in my development as a player and as a person. I only have warm memories. I enjoyed every day, every minute I worked, trained and played for Arsene.”
The parallels between Van Persie and Sanchez are obvious. Both, for example, were allowed to enter the last year of their contracts, diminishing Arsenal’s bargaining power, and left for Manchester in search of trophies, of something better than playing next to Aaron Ramsey.
And both cases have seen United – hardly a proficient force in the market since Man City’s financial metamorphosis – pinch a top player from them.
But there is one key difference: while capturing Van Persie was motivated by a need to remain at the top for Ferguson, Mourinho’s decision to snap up Sanchez has been done with a view towards catching up with their neighbours, now the dominant force in English football.
The Dutchman was always a short-term solution; Sanchez, on the other hand, needs to be part of a bigger long term plan that will begin in earnest over the summer.