LONDON: Arsenal’s signing of French striker Olivier Giroud on Tuesday may signal a turning-point in Robin van Persie’s career with the Premier League club.
Manager Arsene Wenger is said to be considering playing an attacking trio of Giroud, Van Persie and the Gunners’ other new recruit Lukas Podolski as part of a 4-3-3 formation which the Frenchman tried out last year.
Van Persie, the Premier League’s top scorer with 30 goals last season, has been linked with moves to Manchester City and Juventus and the Italian champions are likely to react to Giroud’s arrival in north London with renewed interest.
The 28-year-old Van Persie, who joined Arsenal in 2004, has always said he would never consider playing for another English club but City will also have perked up at the news of Giroud’s arrival.
British newspapers have reported that the Premier League champions are prepared to offer him wages of 250,000 pounds ($390,000) a week.
Juventus cannot hope to match that but any striker would surely be interested in teaming up with playmaker Andrea Pirlo pulling the strings in midfield as the Italian giants bid to return to the pinnacle of European soccer.
With Van Persie’s contract up for renewal in 2013, Wenger is hoping that adding to Arsenal’s strike force will actually encourage the Dutchman to stay at the Emirates rather than push him away.
The coach has been keen to stress the unselfish attributes of Giroud and Podolski, their commitment to teams and readiness and ability to play wide or as a second striker.
That proposed 4-3-3 formation could just as easily develop into a more flexible 4-5-1 or 4-3-2-1, possibly with Van Persie leading the line, and Giroud does not envisage any great problems.
“I’m a player who likes to play, who likes to participate in the game,” he told Arsenal’s official website.
“That’s why I think the way Arsenal play will suit me.
“There is a nice sporting challenge as well at Arsenal, and I will play to create history and enjoy myself and give pleasure to the fans.
“Of course, there are big strikers here, it is a big club and there will be a lot of competition for places.
“But it’s up to me to win my place.”
Arsenal supporters would be devastated to lose Van Persie who has carried the team’s attack since the painful departures of creative midfielders Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri last year.
He overcame the injury problems which have dogged his career to play over 40 matches for Arsenal last season and is seen as a cornerstone of the team’s bid to win their first major trophy since the 2005 FA Cup.
Three clearly does not have to be a crowd given Wenger’s tactical flexibility and the demands of the English season but Van Persie has some thinking to do at a pivotal moment in his career.