Robin van Persie: Player Profile

Van Persie Returns To The Emirates

Personal information 
Full name: Robin van Persie
Date of birth: 6 August 1983
Age: 31
Place of birth: Rotterdam, Netherlands
Height: 1.83 m (6 ft 0 in)
Playing position: Striker

Club information
Current team:
 Manchester United 

Youth career 1997–1999: Excelsior 
1998–2001: Feyenoord

Senior career 2001–2004 Feyenoord 78 Appearances, 28 goals
2004–2012 Arsenal 227 Appearances, 132 goals 
2012– Manchester United 84 Appearances, 51 goals

National team 2000 Netherlands U17 6 Appearances, 0 goals
2001 Netherlands U19 6 Appearances, 0 goals
2002–2005 Netherlands U21 12 Appearances, 1 goals 
2005– Netherlands 94 Appearances, 48 goals

Robin van Persie will go down as one of the finest goalscorers in Premier League history when he retires. Over the course of the last five seasons, he has registered a goal once every 116 minutes. Even under David Moyes, when the Dutchman supposedly looked disinterested and a shadow of his former self, he struck once every 133 minutes. However, this season Van Persie’s strike rate has dropped to a goal every 226 minutes. Equally concerning is the fact that he has struggled to make an impact against three promoted teams and two sides that finished in the bottom half of the Premier League last season. Van Persie’s last-gasp equaliser against Chelsea was, however, a reminder of the threat he poses. Louis van Gaal is therefore tasked with managing Van Persie’s decline, in order for Manchester United to see the best of him.

Signed in the summer of 2012, Van Persie will long be associated with United’s title win in 2013, scoring 26 times in 38 appearances at a rate of a goal every 120 minutes to secure Sir Alex Ferguson’s 13th and final Premier League trophy. Often seen as an injury-prone player, Van Persie featured in all 38 league games for United in his first season, having done the same at Arsenal the year before. He scored an incredible 56 goals in those 76 games. Van Persie picked up the Golden Boot for two years running and finally had a Premier League title to his name. His second season at United was essentially split into two chunks due to a groin injury, yet he scored seven league goals in 11 games in the first spell and four goals in seven games in the second at a rate of a goal every 133 minutes. All other variables aside, the statistics show Van Persie put the ball in the back of the net just as regularly in his second season as he did in his first. After helping United claim their 20th league title, the Dutchman also claimed the league's Golden Boot after netting 26 times - he fired 30 goals overall, was voted the Sir Matt Busby Way Player of the Year and collected the Goal of Season accolade at United's annual awards dinner for his incredible volley against Aston Villa in April 2013, the second goal of his hat-trick in the game that clinched the championship crown.

Travelling to the World Cup in Brazil with an unfancied Netherlands side in June, Van Persie scored one of the goals of the tournament and finished with a total of four. That record was bettered only by James Rodriguez and Thomas Muller.

In Van Persie’s biggest game for United this year, the second leg of a last-16 Champions League tie with Olympiakos, he scored a 26-minute hat-trick to take United through to the quarter-finals. However, he was forced to miss both legs against Bayern Munich through injury. United have had a miserable 12 months on the pitch, with a 1-0 win over Arsenal the only positive result against a big team in the Premier League. Who was the scorer for United on that occasion? Van Persie.

The Dutchman would have naturally been delighted when compatriot Van Gaal was announced as Moyes’ successor in May. With Sir Alex retired and Moyes sacked, Van Gaal was probably the man to get the best out of Van Persie at United. However, the Dutch striker has looked off the pace this season. At 31, Van Persie is in the latter stages of his career. Age-related decline is inevitable. Van Gaal must therefore manage Van Persie carefully, deciding when to rest him and when to play him. 

Playing Van Persie as a lone striker for 90 minutes, however, is too much to ask of him. There were signs of an understanding with Radamel Falcao when the two men played together against Leicester City and West Ham United, and perhaps that is how Van Gaal will look to utilise his two star strikers when they take on Van Persie’s former club Arsenal this weekend. With United out of Europe and playing just one game a week, Van Persie has plenty of time to recover between matches. He may have lost some sharpness, pace and mobility, but his unwavering ability to put the ball in the net is the reason he’s in the team. And if there is one man Arsenal should fear, it’s their ex-capitain, Robin Van Persie.