The 30-year-old has been a shadow of the striker who scored 30 goals last year to spearhead us towards our 20th league title and his performance last night was typical of his season – forlorn, distant and unattached, far from his unstoppable best.
After the game, Van Persie’s passing comments about being frustrated that his teammates occupy the positions he wants to has led to speculation about him considering his future and the reality is that it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Dutchman wanted to leave in the summer.
When Van Persie burned his bridges with Arsenal and turned his back on an eight year career in London, he did it with one thing in mind – winning silverware – so he came to work under Sir Alex Ferguson. It was an instantly vindicated decision with the league title in his first year but then Ferguson dropped his retirement bombshell and Van Persie didn’t expect it, nobody did.
Ferguson was a massive influence in Van Persie’s decision to join United, so his retirement would have impacted him but back in September 2013, Van Persie still insisted he wanted to see out the remaining years on his contract and had the desire to stay for even longer if it was possible.
“I have three more years to go and I would like to stay longer,” he told MUTV.
“I know, and I see people around me, making decisions where I think these guys will look back and say ‘was that a good one?’. I don’t want that.
“I want to play as long as possible at the highest level.”
How things have changed if his decision now is the polar opposite but I suppose it is no surprise given how our season has gone.
Van Persie is 30. He isn’t getting any younger. For what seemed like an eternity, Van Persie built his career on ‘next year’ being his year at Arsenal but now, he will be wondering whether he has the time to repeat that logic at United.
On top of that, there is no guarantee that United are going to be anywhere near a title challenge next year. We should be given how much we should spend in the summer but given his age, you couldn’t begrudge Van Persie leaving if he wanted to join somebody who is certain to challenge for a title. He doesn’t owe United loyalty.
Of course, nobody wants to see Van Persie leave given his quality but the reality is that there is no guarantee the Dutchman will be a United player next year.