After nearly a decade-and-a-half away Robin van Persie has returned to Feyenoord, but is it what the struggling Eredivisie champions need?
14 years after leaving the club, Robin van Persie has re-joined Dutch heavyweights Feyenoord. The 34-year-old striker has come back at a time when the club that gave him his professional debut needs him the most as they are currently 17 points behind league leaders PSV Eindhoven.
It’s a stark contrast to last season, which saw Feyenoord grab their first league title in 18 years on the final match day thanks to a hat-trick from returning hero Dirk Kuyt, who is now in retirement. The Feyenoord faithful are hoping that Van Persie can have the same impact as Kuyt but is the former top striker still capable of producing the goods?
OFFICIAL: Robin van Persie returns to boyhood club Feyenoord, 14 years after leaving ?⚪ pic.twitter.com/09a4dU8IXR
— B/R Football (@brfootball) January 19, 2018
We can’t deny that Robin van Persie, at his peak, was one of the best centre-forwards in world football. He needed some time to adjust to the high level the Premier League demands when he joined Arsenal from Feyenoord in 2004 but when he eventually found his feet, he was a constant danger man.
Especially in his last two years at the Emirates – 2010/11 (25 games, 18 goals) and 2011/12 (38 games, 31 goals) – Van Persie set the Premier League alight. It created one problem, though, as his star was rising, Arsenal couldn’t match his ambitions. It resulted in a move to rivals Manchester United, which made him public enemy number one for the Arsenal supporters.
Vader & zoon @Persie_Official! ⚽️?#RVPISBACK #Feyenoord pic.twitter.com/WSdCrDXLrA
— Feyenoord Rotterdam (@Feyenoord) January 22, 2018
Van Persie wasn’t bothered one bit as he wanted to win trophies and realized that having only won a single FA Cup in eight years with The Gunners, he needed to go elsewhere to do so.
In his first year at United, Van Persie guided Manchester United to glory, winning his first Premier League title and landing his second Golden Boot in the process. At 29, Van Persie was living his best moment as a footballer and the expectation was that he could win many more trophies with United over the next few years.
It didn’t happen, however, which was down to various reasons. First of all, injuries became a problem for Holland’s all-time top goal scorer. It resulted in a player that sometimes lacked perfect match fitness in his last two season at United. He still managed to play 25+ games in each campaign but never recovered his best form.
Next to that, the retirement of legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson was a big blow for the team. His brilliance as a coach was once again confirmed as his successors struggled. Finally, a lot of former star players like Patrice Evra, Nemanja Vidic and Wayne Rooney were past their sell-by dates and couldn’t replicate their best form anymore.
Van Persie left the club in the summer of 2015 to join Turkish side Fenerbahce. After a decent debut season, his injury problems started to emerge again. Besides that, Van Persie also began to become disliked by the fans towards the end of his time at the club due to his poor attitude.
So what can a 34-year-old, who is not really match fit and has a poor injury record in the last few years, offer to Feyenoord? One thing we have to realize that the Dutch league is slower in tempo and inferior in quality to the Turkish league. Van Persie can still be a big player in a league like the Eredivisie If he can keep himself in shape. But that, of course, has been a problem for the past years.
Finally, Van Persie might be a good short-term solution but Feyenoord constantly produce good youth players who now won’t get as many chances as they perhaps had expected. For Feyenoord, it’s a transfer that brings more uncertainty than it gives guarantees, making it a bad deal on many aspects.