Should Tottenham turn to former Arsenal front man for Champions League push?

Photo Credit: Ronnie Macdonald via Wikimedia Commons
Photo Credit: Ronnie Macdonald via Wikimedia Commons /

Spurs are in need of striker reinforcements and could do a lot worse than former Arsenal striker Robin van Persie

Few rivalries feature deep-seeded hatred quite like the North London clash between Tottenham and Arsenal. The list of players who’ve crossed over from one side to the other is short for a reason. Once you play for one, hatred for the other often seeps into your very being. Given the nature of the rivalry, could Tottenham really turn to Robin van Persie to provide cover for Harry Kane?

As a Tottenham fan my number one fear in my football life at the moment is that Harry Kane will be injured. I literally shuddered as I wrote that sentence as if I could somehow jinx the young striker into falling prey to injury with my pessimistic thoughts. He is Spurs only quality option at striker and if he were to miss any extended period of time due to injury or suspension, it would likely mean the end of Tottenham’s Premier League title or Champions League qualification dreams.

As a result, priority number one for Spurs in the January transfer window is to acquire solid cover at the striker position. Most believe this will be the only significant purchase of the window for a Tottenham squad that features solid depth elsewhere on the pitch. The general line of thinking has been that Tottenham will seek out a young, talented striker who can help the team now but will also be a good investment for the future. Names like Ayoze Perez and Saido Berahino are routinely bandied about as the right “type” of striker to purchase.

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While I’m in favor of this idea as a philosophy, I’m smart enough to know that sometimes the best laid plans don’t work out. Just as a manager must enter every match with some sort of plan B, Tottenham’s ownership must have other options if some of their young targets don’t come available. It’s a real possibility that the most cost-effective option for Spurs will be to buy an experienced striker who’s headed towards the twilight of their career. The preference would be to buy someone who’s familiar with the Premier League and won’t be intimidated by key matches down the home stretch of the season. Former Arsenal striker Robin Van Persie is just this sort of player.

I realize that some Tottenham fans can’t wrap their minds around this idea just because of his Arsenal connection. I admit this makes acquiring him an extreme long shot, but that doesn’t change the fact that he might be exactly what the squad needs. If Spurs are going to purchase an older striker they will want him to have significant Premier League experience. van Persie certainly checks that box better than almost any other alternative. What’s more important though, is that van Persie has already achieve enough in his career that he can comfortably play as Kane’s back-up without upsetting the team dynamic.

No matter what van Persie does for the rest of his career, his prime days will always be thought of as his time at Arsenal and his brief Manchester United stay. He is secure in that fact and knows he’s accomplished plenty to establish a strong legacy. That would allow him to move to Tottenham without trying to do too much. He could appreciate his place playing behind Kane without trying to unsettle the young star. Robin van Persie wouldn’t need to become a starter at Tottenham. He’s accomplished enough to be content with the role Spurs have available.

Imagine the luxury of being able to sub Kane off after 70 minutes with a lead to bring on a player like van Persie. Currently, we watch Kane run out the final minutes of every match and we love to see his effort, but it’s going to take a toll. The ability to sub him off when he’s lost that initial rush of energy could pay huge dividends. As it stands now, Tottenham’s not comfortable subbing Kane off with even a few minutes left in comfortable victories.

The acquisition of van Persie would allow Mauricio Pochettino to feel comfortable in his striking alternative. He could be used as a late game substitute and could even get an odd start every now and then if he found a good patch of form. He would even allow Pochettino the flexibility to play Kane as a number 10 if he deemed that advantageous for a particular match-up. The purchase of Robin van Persie would solidify Tottenham’s most troublesome roster hole.

Some will tell you that van Persie has lost his game, but the statistics from Fenerbahce don’t back that up. He’s knocked in five goals in 13 appearances with a respectable rating. It’s likely that his player rating would rise if he were afforded more rest as he would be Tottenham. He’s clearly not the superstar player that he used to be, but that isn’t what Tottenham need him to be either. He’s still got enough quality to be a quality back-up in the Premier League.

The idea of Robin van Persie playing for Spurs might be enough to turn many fans’ stomachs on both sides of the vicious rivalry. How much could Tottenham fans object if it got Spurs a spot in the Champions League though?