Arsene Wenger has hailed Robin Van Persie as the new Bergkamp after the Dutchman’s great run of form. The striker is now top scorer for the Gunners with nine goals and has also made seven assists.
Arsenal signed Van Persie from Feyenoord for the measly price of £2.75million pound after the Dutchman became embroiled in a series of rows with the club’s then manager Bert van Marwijk. The striker was 20 at the time and seen as a great prospect but such was the situation between him and the coach, Arsenal were able to sign Van Persie for half his initial valuation.
“In fact during the last year we watched him,” Wenger recalled, ”we spent more time at reserve matches than first team. And when he arrived here, of course, it was a big move both physically and mentally.
“But he survived and I believe that, although he required both talent and intelligence to do that, the main reason was his passion for the game. He has really developed, especially as a team player, in his relations with others. At the start we gave him a role model – Dennis Bergkamp – and I think he is reaching that level.”
Signed for Arsenal as the next Dennis Bergkamp, his reputation and injuries picked up came before him but fans are now starting the real Robin Van Persie. Top scorer and creating goals as well, the striker is becoming a talismanic figure at the club and will only get better with a good runs of games.
”If you look at the statistics, Robin is more of a goalscorer than Dennis Bergkamp was [Bergkamp scored 87 goals in 315 matches, Van Persie has 40 in 109]. In addition, his vision and passing are developing well.”
“Van Persie is Dennis Bergkamp – with goals. You look at his scoring record and it is better than Dennis’s. When Robin came here it was a big move for him, but we gave him a role model in Dennis and now he has really grown into that role.
“Robin will tell you Dennis was a big influence on him because he respected him and listened to his advice. Dennis was 34, the right age to want to help.
“Robin’s always had the vision and the talent, but what really stands out for me is how he’s developed into a team player. It’s a remarkable transformation. And the fact he is 25, you know he’s going to get better. His best years are in front of him.”
Van Persie’s play has matured a since the start of the season, keeping the ball better and generally making better decisions when he has the ball and also when not in possession. Arguably his finest hour this season came at Hull City where before his individual abilities came his team effort. Below is his passing against Hull City compared to the reverse fixture at Tottenham.
At first glance there is not a great difference but the Robin Van Persie of now has had greater receiving of the ball in the channel between midfield and attack and linking play better. The case at the start of the season was that he dropped deeper, maybe too deep at times but now is assessing the situation better and dropping deep when required, especially to make a five man midfield when defending.