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Manchester United’s very own Lionel Messi

by Sam Peoples

Robin van Persie has now scored 15 goals in 21 appearances already at Manchester United. He has scored the winning goal against Manchester City, Liverpool, Southampton and West Ham in the Premier League already this season – what a player.

After scoring the opener against Sunderland on Saturday, Martin O’Neill has heaped praise on the Dutchman and compared his impact at Manchester United to that of Lionel Messi at Barcelona.

Speaking at the post match press conference, he said: “With players of the calibre of Van Persie in your side, you always have a chance of winning football matches.

“Would, for instance, Barcelona have the same effect if Lionel Messi didn’t play?

“The number of goals Messi has scored is incredible. They are a very talented team but without him, you don’t know, because Messi is their talisman. Honestly, Van Persie can get goals out of very little. It looks like nothing is happening and you have players there in the area. But all of a sudden he has opened up a gap.”

Over £20 million for a 29-year-old injury prone striker with one left on his contract seemed a steep price at the time. Now it seems like the bargain of the century. It wasn’t hard to appreciate van Persie’s brilliance when he carried Arsenal single handedly into the Champions League, but it is so much easier to appreciate it when he is in a United shirt.

The more minutes he plays, the more the fans fall in love with him. Cantona comparisons are far too premature but few transfers have had such a dramatic impact in such a short time as van Persie’s move to United. He really is the flying Dutchman.

Martin O’Neill continued: “You always felt that United would give themselves a big edge by getting Van Persie.

“He was a great purchase. It means Manchester United are capable of scoring goals because Wayne Rooney is a top quality player as well.

“We are making judgements before Christmas here — but if Van Persie stays fit, that will make a massive difference to United’s challenge. They have a great chance of winning the league.”

Six points clear of Manchester City and 13 clear of Chelsea, who have played one less game. Now that’s a fantastic start to the campaign. United’s leaky defence has done its best to try and thwart it but our attack has been nothing short of phenomenal, with Rooney and van Persie turning into one of the deadliest partnerships in European football.

Martin O’Neill saw the damage that the pair could do at Old Trafford on Saturday with both getting on the score sheet. He said : “United have paid close on £30million for a player who had just one year left on his contract, so that might tell you how valuable they perceive him to be.

“But it’s not just the perception, the reality is that he has been fantastic so far.

“Van Persie and Rooney are linking up and keeping some excellent players out of the team — and they really are excellent players.

“When you have teams like United, they can have a ten to 15 minute period when you think nothing has happened, but they can then conjure something.

“That’s what makes them what they are — the fact they can score goals from positions and situations when you think nothing can happen.”

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