Robin van Persie's decision not to sign a new deal with Arsenal has set of something of a feeding frenzy from fans of clubs who need a new striker (or, in Manchester City's case, fans of clubs that don't need a new striker but want one anyway). With the captain's current deal expiring at the end of the season, Arsenal almost have to sell him to ensure a prize asset doesn't leave for nothing... don't they?
The Gunners don't seem to think so:
We have to respect Robin's decision not to renew his contract. Robin has one year to run on his current contract and we are confident that he will fulfil his commitments to the Club.
We are planning with ambition and confidence for next season with Arsenal's best interests in mind.
Which is interesting. It's not clear what their reasoning is, but SB Nation Arsenal blog the Short Fuse thinks that holding on to van Persie and letting him leave on a free transfer at the end of the year might be worthwhile if the bids for their talismanic striker don't come in particularly high:
Getting the £20m for van Persie (and it wouldn't be more for a player who is 29, in the last year of his contract and clearly wants to go) will not help Arsenal next season. £20m can get you very little in terms of players who have Premiership experience and are good goal-scorers, and getting another player from abroad would be risky. With the new Premier League television deal, Arsenal will get that money back if they keep their place in the top 4, a position under threat by a resurgent Chelsea and a Tottenham who have just gotten rid of their biggest liability in Harry Redknapp.
There's some thought that van Persie has scuppered his sale price by announcing, essentially, that he wants to leave, and Arsenal's statement is probably an indication that they're willing to play hardball against any team who's hoping to snap him up on the cheap. At this point, I'd expect a bidding war to emerge between the likes of Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus, the price to eventually outweigh the Short Fuse's cost-benefit calculations, and for van Persie to be moved on in the summer, a decision that the buying team may well eventually regret thanks to his injury history and wage demands.
But if Arsenal really really want to be stubborn over this, things could be very interesting indeed.