Van Persie doubt throws up early test for fantasy managers

When Robin van Persie announced that he would not be renewing his contract at Arsenal, he sent a ripple (or wave?) of the unknown through the Fantasy Premier League (FPL) community.

We are talking about a lad who scored 30 goals and made 9 assists from 37 league starts last season – making a mockery of his injury prone tag. A penalty taker, free kick taker and corner taker. ‘RVP’ is the ultimate fantasy football machine.

To put this into context, the whole Stoke team only managed 36 goals all season!

Van Persie’s situation could rumble on for a while, but it has got fantasy managers thinking: what to do with Robin van Persie?

Van Persie’s incredible 2011/12 Fantasy Premier League season will cost us.

He started last season at £12.0m, but we can expect that to be at least £13.0m when FPL launches, with some even anticipating a starting price of £14.0m.

Thierry Henry and Cristiano Ronaldo have started the season at £14.0m before, so it’s not beyond question.

Investing in van Persie at these sorts of prices requires careful thought, and other areas of our teams will inevitably suffer as we look to raise the funds for the Dutch machine.

We cannot dismiss a player of this quality, but we cannot opt in by default either.

Arsenal’s fixtures don’t help us much either. There’s a couple of ripe strawberries in there to tempt us, but there’s some skanky ones too, holding us back.

(For those unsure why I’m talking strawberries, check out my recent article on steps to picking your new Fantasy Premier League 2012/13 team.)

Arsenal’s first five fixtures include home games against Sunderland and Southampton, but they face tricky away trips to Stoke, Liverpool and Man City.

Perhaps the other big-hitting alternatives to van Persie might guide us more.

Sergio Aguero kicks off the season with two enticing home games against Southampton and QPR.

Our love-hate relationship with Fernando Torres is set to ignite again. The Euro 2012 Golden Boot winner kicks off the season with a Double Gameweek against Wigan and Reading.

And then there’s Wayne Rooney, an FPL Dugout favourite, with clashes against Fulham, Southampton and Wigan in his first 4 Gameweeks.

It’s possible a lot of fantasy managers will start the season with two of these four in their squads.

Also, let’s remember that van Persie is unsettled, so do we want a player in our fantasy teams who wants out? A player who looked out of sorts at Euro 2012, and who started last season slowly.

You could argue here that there’s a case for leaving van Persie out of our squads, but then you remember just how prolific he was last season, whatever the fixture, and wonder some more.

For now, we wait, lurking in the background for more news, and seeing what happens in pre-season.

It may be clearer when the season kicks off on Saturday 18 August. Perhaps van Persie will be a Man City player, to create another dilemma, or perhaps he will be abroad.

But it’s more than possible he’ll start the season an Arsenal player, surrounded in doubt, which is exactly what fantasy managers will be feeling.

But we love it really. At least he’s not in the Olympics.