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Robin van Persie is good but is still short of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo's class

Robin van Persie is good but is still short of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo's class

In the 2010-2011 season, the Dutchman scored 23 of his 24 goals for club and country after New Year. Between August and the end of December, he scored just once in ten matches.

That stuttering form was a result of Van Persie’s traditional Achilles heel (and knee… and ankle…): his susceptibility to injury.

The second question raised by Arteta’s glowing report is: “How long can he keep it up?” The jury is still out on that.

Thirdly, how to compare their achievements in two very different leagues? Messi has the advantage of playing with the best midfielders in the world, and in a team that is streets ahead of all but one other team in the league, a sort of rich man’s Henrik Larsson.

In my opinion, Ronaldo has, at time of writing, had a more impressive career than Messi, in that he has been brilliant in two major leagues and often in the face of genuine animosity from opposing players and fans.

Far more than Messi, Ronaldo could empathise with Van Persie about carrying a team on his shoulders, as Cesc Fabregas did before him with Arsenal.

From the constant tummy-rubbing messages coming from Wenger and his players, it is clear that making Van Persie feel indispensable is part of their tactic to hold onto him.

But it simultaneously reinforces the impression in the player that he is too good for those around him and may make him want to play alongside even better footballers.

Sadly, the trend in football is for the genuinely top-notch players to gravitate towards half-a-dozen clubs continent-wide and, sadly again, Arsenal are not in that group.

To be truly considered the equal of players like Messi and Ronaldo, Van Persie will have to leave the Emirates. And assuming he stays fit, and out of trouble, he will.