The Arsenal star swept the major individual honors, winning both the players’ and writers’ “Player of the Year” awards.
These awards can be difficult to predict, as they often promote endless debate. Should the award go to the best player on the best team? Should the winner be the player who is most important to his own team? Should the performance of the winner’s team count for anything at all when determining the top player?
Van Persie made these questions (and all others) irrelevant. His goal-scoring record — 27 strikes in the league and 34 in all competitions — is impressive to say the least. He has topped the Premier League in that department for most of the season, making him an instant favorite on both fronts.
The players union announced the finalists for its award last week. Van Persie was joined by a trio of Manchester City stars (David Silva, Joe Hart and Sergio Aguero) as well as Scott Parker and Wayne Rooney. The analysis began with the announcement and then voters, both writers and players, began to measure the merits of each candidate. They stopped shortly thereafter.
“Robin was the overwhelming choice of our members this season and deservedly so after a magnificent campaign for Arsenal,” Football Writers’ Association chairman Steve Bates said.
“The quality of his goals, attacking movement and consistency in a turbulent season for the Gunners has been eye-catching. The considerable size of his majority in the votes cast by our members reflected the general view that he has been the season’s most outstanding individual performer.”
Arsenal has endured a roller-coaster of a season — it looked like relegation fodder at the outset, but now is the favorite to finish third in the Premier League — but van Persie has been a model of consistency throughout.
Time and time again, his goals would turn losses into draws and draws into wins. He was nothing less than Arsenal’s own Orpheus, dragging the team through the underworld up to the surface. There is no telling where Arsenal would be without van Persie; certainly not in the 2012-13 UEFA Champions League.
That is why his contract saga has taken on a life of its own. The 28-year-old refused to discuss an extension while he was terrorizing defenses during the season. His contract expires at the end of next season, and there is a chance Arsenal could sell him to any number of Europe’s top clubs rather than lose him for free. Arsenal could also play hard ball and keep him around for another year.
At this point it’s hard to predict van Persie’s future. We have all summer to do that. For now, let’s congratulate Arsenal’s Dutch master for conquering his long-standing injury jinx and showing the world what he is capable of doing.