Robin van Persie – the international riddle

Why does Arsenal talisman Van Persie remain a Dutch riddle

When Robin van Persie limped out of Holland training on Tuesday night there were certain to be sharp intakes of breath across swathes of north London.

But back in his native Holland, the news could expect to be greeted by a collective gentle shrug.

Eye on the ball: For Holland, Robin van Persie is something of an enigma

Eye on the ball: For Holland, Robin van Persie is something of an enigma

There, they wait for this undisputed
natural talent to make an impact on the national team after he was
accused of under-performing at the World Cup in South Africa, where he
scored only once.

Van Persie, who pulled up with a
groin injury in training at Wembley ahead of Wednesday's friendly, has
scored 29 goals in 35 games for the Gunners and will not be far from the
reckoning when the individual prizes are handed out at the end of the
season.

Yet, his Dutch team-mate Urby
Emanuelson, who played for AC Milan against Van Persie’s Arsenal last
week, says: ‘At the World Cup, a lot of people in Holland expected a lot
from him. Everybody thought if Van Persie, (Arjen) Robben and (Wesley)
Sneijder were in good shape then Holland could win.

Sneijder and Robben did well and only
Robin was not the way we hoped he would be. He is a really valuable
player for Holland and the tournament didn’t go the way he wanted. It
was difficult for him and he came in following an injury.

‘Now you can see he has his form back
and he doesn’t have to convince anyone he is a good player. He is the
best player for Arsenal and he shows it every week and I’m happy it’s
going well for him.

Main man: At club level, Van Persie's form is as good as it has ever been

Main man: At club level, Van Persie's form is as good as it has ever been

‘He is showing every week that he is from a world-class level. Everybody knows he is a great player and a great person.’

Van Persie has been destined for
greatness since he emerged from the Feyenoord academy but injuries
hampered his progress. He was also hindered by the reputation acquired
in his youth that he was arrogant and awkward to manage.

Holland boss Bert van Marwijk was in charge at Feyenoord when he put Van Persie in the reserves and then sold him to Arsenal.

The pair are said to have mellowed
since and have healed their differences, and those who know the striker
well insist he has matured in recent years and responded positively to
the duties of the Arsenal captaincy.

Van Persie scored six in the Euro 2012
qualifying campaign —although four were in the 11-0 thrashing of San
Marino — but is sometimes the victim of his versatility, sometimes asked
to play in different roles by Van Marwijk. But this summer, he will
have the chance to prove his class once again on the big stage.