David Dein's son… the Arsenal exodus and why Van Persie could be next to go
When Alex Song clipped a delicious pass through for Robin van Persie's winner at Liverpool on Saturday, Arsenal's directors could not ignore one of the driving forces behind the team's resurgence.
Over the past five years Darren Dein, son of highly-respected former Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein, has become an increasingly influential and powerful figure within the dressing room.
He counts Van Persie among his commercial client list and Song among the stellar cast of names on the walls of his Hampstead offices.
Big deal: Dein (left) and Gael Clichy in
Manchester before Clichy joined City last summer
The word at Arsenal is that it will take far more than the 150,000 a week Van Persie will be offered in the summer to keep the Barclays Premier League's top goalscorer at the Emirates.
Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis and manager Arsene Wenger are convinced the real stumbling block to a deal will be Darren.
Since David Dein was forced out of the club in 2007, his son has advised a number of star players in the Arsenal dressing room on commercial or playing contracts.
Star names like Thierry Henry, Emmanuel Adebayor, Gael Clichy and Cesc Fabregas have all been represented by Dein, a qualified solicitor, on various levels over the past five years.
They have all chosen to pursue careers elsewhere and the fear in Arsenal circles is that Dein's latest high-profile clients could follow an established pattern.
Talks between the club, Van Persie – who also has an agent in Holland – and his representatives are scheduled to start again over the summer.
It is anticipated the club will offer
the prolific Holland striker, who has already scored 32 goals this
season, a five-year deal worth more than 7.5million a year, but the
player is not motivated by financial incentives.
The captaincy is not enough to keep him
happy, either. Van Persie wants to add silverware to the FA Cup winner's
medal he picked up against Manchester United in 2005.
Flying Dutchman: Van Persie has been in stunning form in front of goal for Arsenal this season
That penalty shoot-out win gave Arsenal their last major trophy and there is little to suggest Wenger's team are about to challenge the game's top teams again.
They play AC Milan in the Champions League and, although Arsenal are unlikely to recover from 4-0 down in the first leg, it is an opportunity for them to show Van Persie his future is at the Emirates.
There are no guarantees he will stay and it is a decision he is expected to make after consultation with his wife, Bouchra, at the end of the season.
In the past, when the majority of Arsenal's players were represented and managed by Jerome Anderson's SEM Group, the star names traditionally remained loyal.
Ian Wright, David Rocastle, Tony Adams and Dennis Bergkamp are among a number of high-profile players who snubbed greater financial incentives elsewhere to stay at Highbury.
Wright famously never looked at his contracts, putting his trust in his agent and David Dein to provide him with the pay packet his performances at Arsenal merited.
Moved on: Adebayor and Fabregas have both departed Arsenal in recent seasons
Arsenal are operating in a different era now and the fear is that Darren Dein's client list could quit the club for the financial riches and rewards elsewhere.
Dein has been a director of Double D Limited since he began advising some of the best talent in world football. He used to watch Arsenal from the director's box with his father, a familiar boardroom figure when the team still played at Highbury.
He was also a regular on the charter flights with his father on Champions League trips, a regular fixture among high-ranking Arsenal officials.
Despite qualifying as a lawyer, he became a football agent and was the best man at Henry's wedding to Claire Merry in 2003.
His current home in leafy Hampstead is being refurbished and he is living with his wife, Sara, and three children in a huge rented property instead. She is the daughter of former Tottenham vice-chairman David Buchler and is also a director of the property business she owns with her husband.
Dein's main business is
advising footballers and many of his clients have played for Arsenal
over the years. Henry was paid a 5m loyalty bonus to stay at Arsenal
and was also handsomely rewarded with a 130,000-a-week contract less than 48 hours after they were beaten by Barcelona in the 2006 Champions League final.
Stayers: Henry (above, with Dein) and Wright (below) were both rewarded handsomely for their loyalty
Dein was instrumental in the negotiations with Gazidis and Wenger to take Henry back to the club on a short-term loan deal at the start of this year.
Although Dein now represents Adebayor, it is understood his contract to act as the player's agent crystalised only 18 months after the former Arsenal striker moved to Manchester City in 2009.
Clichy is another client he acquired when he was still an Arsenal player, but the Gunners gave Dein the mandate to sell the French full back to cash-rich City last summer for 7m.
Fabregas is also on Dein's client list and the Spain midfielder was finally sold to Barcelona last summer for an initial 29m after a lengthy pursuit of the midfielder.
Darren Dein did not wish to comment.