Who is the Arsenal villain: Wenger or Van Persie?

Opinion mixed on Dutch striker's decision to leave Gunners

Robin van Persie's decision not to sign a new contract at Arsenal did not come as a surprise but opinion is mixed as to whether he should be considered the villain for deserting the club after yet another trophyless season.

The Dutch striker was hailed as a hero for almost single-handedly keeping Arsenal in the top four with his inspiring leadership and phenomenal performance in front of goal which earned him the top player awards.

The 28-year-old has cited his desire to win trophies as a key reason for his decision, with Arsenal yet to win any silverware since 2005.

It would be unfair on Arsenal's part to hold him to ransom when a player has lost motivation to stay in the club.

Despite the best intentions of Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, the Gunners have failed to see the bigger picture even after the acrimonious transfer saga last year featuring midfield duo Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri.

Van Persie's next move would determine whether he would be revered at the Emirates like his compatriot Dennis Bergkamp or reviled like Nasri has been ever since his move to Manchester City.

Fabregas' move to Barcelona was accepted by fans since he had expressed his desire to rejoin his boyhood club. Nasri was ridiculed by fans for turning his back on Arsenal although he took pains to say it was not motivated by money.

Van Persie risks alienating himself with Gunners faithful if he joins City although he could be forgiven somewhat if he sought a transfer to Europe.

Either way it is a difficult pill to swallow for Arsenal fans who have to endure the painful exodus of star players who are losing faith in Wenger's project.

Former Arsenal midfielder Paul Merson echoed the sentiments of fans by warning Van Persie he will regret his decision to leave the Gunners.

Merson believes Van Persie, who scored 37 goals in all competitions for the Gunners last term, will live to regret leaving Emirates Stadium and warned that he would be "slaughtered" by Gunners fans if he is unable to secure a move before the new campaign.

"Not many players leave Arsenal, very rarely, and don't regret it. It's an unbelievable club," Merson told Sky Sports News.

"It's perfect. I'd have liked him to stick it out.

"I'm a bit gutted really. He's burnt his bridges. If he comes back and they don't sell him the fans are going to slaughter him.

"They'll be devastated. He's a top-drawer player. World class."

Former Gunners striker Alan Smith does not believe, however, that the Dutchman was swayed by the riches the likes of City can offer, according to The Sun.

"From what I have heard from people close to Robin he's not motivated by money," he said.

"I think at his age, he's 28, it's about winning medals. He's in his peak years now. I truly believe in this case he wants to win things in the next few years when he can.

"That doesn't reflect well, of course, on Arsenal. It's really disappointing from Arsenal's point of view.

"But Robin van Persie is looking at the next few years when he's 28, 29, 30; he thinks they can't win trophies. You don't want to say it but you probably have to agree with him."

Smith is unconvinced Wenger's new signings Lukas Podolski and Oliver Giroud can match Van Persie's exploits.

"He's brought in Giroud and Podolski but can they replace the 37 goals he got last season? They are going to have to for Arsenal just to stand still let alone move forward," he said.

"It's a double blow for Arsenal because they've also lost a captain, and a good captain too.

"It's going to be very difficult to make up the points they trailed Manchester City last season.

"I'm not saying, though, that they've got no chance at all."

However, former midfielder Ray Parlour believes Van Persie had made up his mind to leave the club before the end of last season.

"I think he knew three or four months ago that he wasn't going to stay," he said.

"That's football these days. People move on quickly. Arsenal have to accept it and move on."

Parlour has urged Arsenal to immediately reinvest the money from any sale back into the squad.

The Gunners hierarchy were criticised for failing to spend following the departures of Fabregas and Nasri.

Parlour is hopeful that situation will not occur again, adding: "There is talk he could get £25million to £30million. If that is the case it has to be invested straight back into the club.

"When Fabregas and Nasri left the money wasn't invested back in. They need to spend the amount they get and maybe more as well.

"Maybe they can get two or more players with this money."

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