20. ROBIN VAN PERSIE
|Birthdate:||06 Aug 1983|
|Joined United:||17 Aug 2012|
|United Debut:||20 Aug 2012 v Everton (A)|
All United fans will remember where they were when news broke that a deal had been agreed with Arsenal to bring Robin van Persie to Old Trafford and he put pen-to-paper on Friday 17 August.
Van Persie is the reigning PFA Player of the Year and the Football Writers’ Footballer of the Year after a fabulous season with the Gunners. The Dutchman was top scorer in the Barclays Premier League with 30 goals, three ahead of his nearest challenger, Wayne Rooney, who looks set to line up alongside him when the 2012/2013 campaign kicks off. Born in Rotterdam, he really made his mark at local side Feyenoord and was chased by some of England’s top clubs after a couple of seasons impressing on the left wing. Despite rumoured interest from Tottenham, Arsenal snapped him up for £2.75million in 2004 and he soon proved value for money. After overcoming injury problems, he became the main man at Arsenal, playing centrally and becoming a major influence on the Gunners’ play. Taking over the captaincy, he was the driving force for Arsene Wenger’s side and was clearly one of the best players of 2011/2012 with many pundits arguing he dragged the North Londoners into the top three by leading from the front. “The intelligence of his movement around the box and the accuracy of his finishing is exceptional,” commented Wenger after his skipper hit a sensational hat-trick in a 5-3 win at Chelsea in October, 2011. “He is on fire.” Van Persie scored in both matches against United, albeit in defeat on each occasion, and confirmed his status as a world-class striker with a string of outstanding displays and matchwinning contributions. A set-piece specialist who possesses a fearsome shot, he also shows an unselfish streak by providing a number of assists for his team-mates. In terms of international football, he scored in Holland’s defeat to Germany during a disappointing overall Euro 2012 campaign for the Netherlands and starred at the 2006 and 2010 World Cup finals and also at Euro 2008. Fellow countryman Dennis Bergkamp, who was also idolised at Arsenal, paid his special tribute to an outstanding talent. “He can make the difference time after time and, in my opinion, that describes a great player,” said Bergkamp. “It’s incredible how he has developed himself and players like that deserve trophies. His character and style of play is fantastic.” As well as playing in the 2010 World Cup final, when Holland were beaten by Spain, he also lifted the 2002 UEFA Cup with Feyneoord after a 3-2 win against Borussia Dortmund, and won the FA Cup three years later when the Gunners defeated United on penalties in Cardiff. He came off the bench and successfully converted one of the spot-kicks past Roy Carroll but, aside from a Community Shield, it remained the only team silverware he won with Arsenal. Hopefully, team glory will accompany personal accolades for van Persie at Old Trafford,as he provides another mouthwatering option for Sir Alex Ferguson in attack. “It’s an honour to sign for Manchester United,” he admitted when signing on the dotted line. “I am looking forward to following in the footsteps of so many great strikers, bringing my experience and playing my part to help the team compete for the biggest trophies in the game. I can’t wait to get started.”