World Cup: Van Persie's Arsenal pain can be to Holland's gain

ROBIN Van Persie s season of pain at Arsenal will be to Holland s gain at the World Cup, according to Dutch legend Ruud Gullit, writes Paul Chronnell. Van Persie missed five months of the campaign after being injured on international duty against Italy

ROBIN Van Persie's season of pain at Arsenal will be to Holland's gain at the World Cup, according to Dutch legend Ruud Gullit, writes Paul Chronnell.

Van Persie missed five months of the campaign after being injured on international duty against Italy in November, and only returned in the 2-1 derby defeat to Spurs at White Hart Lane in April.

But despite only starting 18 games in all competitions for the Gunners, the 26-year-old still managed 10 goals for his club.

And, having watched the striker net four goals in three World Cup warm-up games, Gullit believes his countryman will be a big hit in South Africa.


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"Van Persie's injury was a tragedy for him, and for Arsenal it was bad also. But for Holland it was maybe a good thing," said the former Chelsea and New-castle manager this week.

"I spoke with him recently, and saw him in Holland when he was trying to come back from his injury. He looks very good. It's difficult to score a lot of goals at the World Cup and I think you will have to score six or seven to be the top scorer. But he could do it.

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"The most important thing is that you score goals that make sense. If you score three goals in a game where you win 5-0, there's no significance."

Gullit does not subscribe to the theory that a player needs a good season behind him to star at a World Cup.

"I say Van Persie will be a big star for us because I see the same pattern I did with [Marco] van Basten," he said.

"He was injured in 1988 and then he came back into shape. We ended up doing very well, and he was the reason. He was that good at that moment," recalled Gullit of Holland's only big tournament success, when he and Van Basten led the Dutch to glory at the 1988 European Championships in Germany.

"It could be an advantage for Holland that Van Persie was injured and he now comes back. He's fresh, eager, hungry. He doesn't want his rest, he wants to play, to score goals.

"Wayne Rooney has been injured, and he's played all year, all season, in many many games.

"I'm always worried about the stars that played so well with their clubs, about whether they can do so well with their country.

"I've never seen it happen. It's very difficult to do after a tiring season. Also you have a little break before the World Cup where they can lose momentum.

"It's hard to say Rooney can do the same for England as he has with United. It's hard to say Messi or Ronaldo or Kaka can.

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