When it became a fact that Robin van Persie wasn’t planning on renewing his contract with Arsenal and this was going to be the summer they’d have to sell him in, three clubs emerged as contenders – Juventus, Manchester United and Manchester City. Arsene Wenger, obviously, preferred sending the Dutch striker to Italy instead of a Premier League rival.
Juventus, still desperate to land a striker after improving pretty much every position on the field with Asamoah, Isla, Giovinco and others, were reported to be willing to make Van Persie the highest paid player in the Serie A, and more reported indicated that Van Persie, not wanting to hurt Arsenal, was opting to join the Italian champions.
Eventually, after Van Persie actually backtraced and decided to stay with Arsenal before a £24 million offer from Alex Ferguson and Manchester United turned the tide and sent Van Persie up north to the Premier League runner-up. Juventus simply waited too long with their big offer, or were simply too afraid to make one due to some factors regarding Van Persie’s age and past injury problems.
Arsene Wenger, Arsenal manager – Juventus can’t think about selling their players for €70 million and then buying new ones for a tenth of that amount. That would be too easy – it’s not possible in today’s football. Van Persie would have been a free agent in the summer of 2013 but we decided to sell only after Manchester United made a great offer. Juventus only offered us £7 million for the player, which we couldn’t accept.
In Italy, Juventus missed out on signing the striker they wanted, but are still interested in Fernando Llorente of Bilbao among others. Their chief executive Giuseppe Marotta admitted that their negotiation with Arsenal was on the stubborn side and probably not aggressive enough.
I have regrets about Van Persie, but it would have been a bad choice for the club if we had paid €30m for a player who would have seen his contract expire next year. We are happy with the business we were able to carry out.
Although not getting the world class striker they were looking for, Juventus did get another Arsenal player, Nicklas Bendtner, on loan, at least adding to the depth at the striker position. Will it be enough for a second Serie A title in two years? Probably. Enough for Champions League success? It’ll be surprising to see them beyond the quarterfinals.