This is devastating news for the Gunners and all their fans (see here). Having lost Fabregas last season (Nasri's departure at the same time was unfortunate, but he's such an ass it's hard to feel bad about it), Van Persie's desire to leave Arsenal after his contrast expires confirms that the club, under current management, is heading in a direction with which its best players disagree - or, at least, that the club cannot compete financially with the likes of Barca, Madrid, Man City, and Man United. At some point, Arsene Wenger must ask whether his own time at Arsenal has past. It's been eight years since the team went undefeated for an entire season, when the greatest players in the world all wanted to play at Highbury (the subsequent move to the Emirates seems to have become something of an albatross about the team's neck).
Did Arsenal's management see this coming? Is that why their first two big signings of the summer were strikers, Podolski and Giroud, who hopefully (between them) could replace RvP? When that question was raised at the time the signings were made, the answer was a resounding, "No, we are just adding strength to the squad around van Persie, and demonstrating to him our commitment to win silverware this coming season." Was that simply a prevarication?
Might van Persie yet change his mind? He has indicated that he will be holding further meetings with Arsenal management in the weeks to come, and will report then on any developments. Perhaps those meetings are simply to determine whether he will be sold this season or leave as a free agent next season. From the club's point of view, it makes far more sense to sell him now, so at least they can get some cash in return. If he leaves as a free agent next summer, Arsenal get nothing for him. But is there no possibility that majority shareholder Stan Kroenke, who already is under pressure from other major shareholders to open the club's purse strings (see here), will avert disaster by doing what it takes to get RvP to reverse his decision?
Here's a suggestion toward that end: if you can't compete with Man City (among others) in terms of cash offers, make RvP a shareholder. Arsenal are, after all, highly profitable.