Thirteen months, ago, Robin van Persie did this:
Now he’s doing this: moving to Turkey.
Turns out that having a former Netherlands manager at Old Trafford wasn’t enough to help revitalize van Persie’s Manchester United career. After failing to flourish last season under Louis van Gaal, the striker is reportedly on the brink of a move to Fenerbahçe.
What the hell, Robin? Couldn’t your pool party pal Andrea Pirlo convince you to join Major League Soccer?
Without intending to diss the clearly significant passion, size, ambition and resources of the top Istanbul clubs, and the appeal of that amazing city, the move — said to be for a transfer fee of only $7.5 million — seems to indicate a precipitous decline for a player who was the most feared striker in the English Premier League, what, 18 months ago?
Or maybe it shows what happens when a player over 30 has a down year. He turns 32 last month, and there’s that long injury history.
Still, Van Persie captained the Netherlands to third place in last year’s World Cup. While he “only” scored 10 times in 27 Premier League appearances for United in 2014-15, that still placed him second behind Wayne Rooney (12) in the club’s league top scorers chart.
The previous campaign was a David Moyes-inflected bummer for everyone at the club, but Van Persie still mustered 12 goals in 21 league appearances. But apparently, once you’re a thirtysomething, the fact you scored 26 EPL goals as recently as 2012-13 can get easily forgotten, and you get shipped off to Turkey to play with Nani (also Fenerbahçe) and Wesley Sneijder (Galatasaray).
Plus, now that Radamel Falcao has gone to Chelsea, United is in need of a striker, making its willingness to part cheaply with a guy they spent $35 million on three years ago a little surprising, even if his contract ends in a year, lowering his transfer value.
Perhaps the move to last season’s Turkish league runners-up comes with the kind of iron-clad guarantees of first-team soccer that weren’t available elsewhere, though it’s a little weird that a player of his pedigree — seventh on the EPL all-time scorers list — hasn’t been linked with more clubs in the leading European leagues.
And he doesn’t even get to hang out with fellow Dutch international Dirk Kuyt, who’s just left Fenerbahçe for Feyenoord.