Man Utd v Arsenal: Robin van Persie brave to move - Silvestre

By Shamoon HafezBBC Sport
Silvestre on 'courageous' Van Persie switch

Robin van Persie was brave to move from Arsenal to Manchester United, according to former defender Mikael Silvestre.

The sides meet in the league on Saturday with striker Van Persie, 29, facing his old club for the first time.

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"You have to be courageous to make the move and Robin took the decision," said Silvestre, who made 326 appearances for United and 38 for Arsenal.

"He is enjoying his football, and has been scoring. He has had a great start at the club."

Van Persie, who moved to Old Trafford on a four-year deal worth about £24m in August after deciding against a contract extension at Arsenal, has scored seven goals in nine Premier League games for United this season.

"He is not hiding on the pitch, is taking responsibility and always asking for the ball," Silvestre told BBC Sport.

"Wayne Rooney was injured and he took the responsibility for the team by scoring the goals.

"Robin is under the same pressure as he was at Arsenal. He is a goalscorer, you expect him to put the ball in the back of the net and to have the same statistics as last year.

"If he stays fit, then there is the potential to form a great partnership with Wayne Rooney. Robin came to win trophies and Wayne is still thirsty for trophies. You couldn't ask for a better pairing."

Silvestre signed for the Red Devils following their 1999 Treble triumph and enjoyed nine years at the club, where he won the Champions League, five Premier League titles, an FA Cup and League Cup.

He moved to Arsenal in 2008 to become the first player to transfer directly between Arsenal and Manchester United since Viv Anderson in 1987.

And just four years after Silvestre's move, Van Persie went in the opposite direction, much to the chagrin of Gunners supporters.

"I think the Arsenal fans may boo Robin because he spent a lot of time there and the fans don't want to lose the best assets," explained Silvestre.

"Losing him to one of the main rivals is not good and they have the right to be angry but that is football, you can't keep a player against their will, but he won't celebrate if he scores as he still has a lot of respect for the club like I do."

The Gunners have not won silverware since 2005 when they beat United on penalties in the FA Cup final in Cardiff.

Silvestre feels it is the club's inability to hold on to star players which is hindering their chances of ending their trophyless run.

"Every time there is a player coming through, they leave the club," he said.

"Robin has now gone to United, Alex Song to Barcelona and Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri have left too.

"The core of the squad couldn't stay the same for a longer period so that is a problem to secure a trophy over a period of time."

After leaving German side Werder Bremen at the end of last season, Silvestre is back training at United to keep fit after a conversation with manager Sir Alex Ferguson.

Along with Van Persie, Silvestre is the only other player to have worked under both Ferguson and Wenger in the Premier League.

The former Rennes and Inter Milan defender was full of praise for both bosses.

"Ferguson and Wenger could not have managed any other team in football," he said.

"Ferguson is the best manager I have played under, while Wenger has taken Arsenal to a different level."

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