Arsenal have confirmed that Robin van Persie will be sidelined for a further four to five months after tests revealed he ruptured three of the four ligaments in his right ankle during a friendly between Netherlands and Italy.
Van Persie suffered the injury following a challenge from Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini earlier in the month and the club initially announced an encouraging diagnosis of a six-week recovery period due to a tear in one of his ligaments.
However, further examinations have revealed much more extensive damage and Van Persie had his ankle put in plaster on Friday. He will now undergo surgery on the problem and Arsenal anticipate that he will be unavailable until the end of March at the earliest.
"Robin van Persie returned to Arsenal on November 22nd following an ankle injury sustained whilst on international duty with Holland," read a club statement. "The injury was expected to keep him out of action for between four and six weeks.
"Upon his return, the Arsenal medical team conducted a thorough review of his scans, his early injury management and the treatment he had received. Having scrutinised these in detail and assessed the response of his ankle, the club's medical team concluded that further investigation and opinion was required.
"Advice was sought from the leading ankle specialist Mr Niek van Dijk, who confirmed that more extensive damage had been suffered than was first diagnosed. In order to repair his ankle, Robin will undergo surgery next week in Amsterdam to reconstruct the ligaments. The club's medical team anticipate that a full recovery will take between four and five months.''
The news is a sizeable blow to Arsenal's ambitions of ending their wait for a trophy under Arsene Wenger as Van Persie was in the form of his life prior to the injury, scoring seven goals and claiming seven assists in 11 Premier League games.
"It is so frustrating to be out for months," Van Persie told AD Sportwereld. "I was having a super season with the team. I had never felt as strong and powerful as this year. Apart from, I think, two matches, I either scored or made goals in all the games we played this season.
"I was getting so strong, that I felt nobody could stop me anymore. That is the greatest feeling you can have as a player. It is such a pity that great run has been stopped for the time being by one kick in a friendly international match. It is a real shame for me, for the team and for the fans of Arsenal."
Van Persie generated debate when choosing to travel to Serbia to undergo treatment with horse placenta but the striker admitted the method had no chance of success given the extensive damage to his ankle.
"In the area of torn muscles and partly torn ligaments she has treated players in the majority of cases with success," Van Persie said. "A number of Liverpool and Chelsea players have all benefited from her treatments. They were all back on the pitch in a very short time.
"As I was enjoying a fantastic period with Arsenal and the first official diagnosis from the doctors was that I would be out for six weeks, I wanted to bring that period back to three or four weeks.
"But the ligaments in my ankle were completely ruptured. That's why the treatment in Serbia, we know now, never had the chance to be successful from the start.
"I have never wanted to go for alternative medical help before. Normally I am too cool for that kind of thing.
"But because I wanted to grab every opportunity to get fit again and to be back on the pitch with Arsenal, I decided to have a go. If it does not help me, it won't harm me either. That was my motto.
"I had the treatment methods checked intensively before I went out there. I demanded to know if there was any way it could do any damage. It couldn't. Which is why I went.
"A lot has been said and written about it. But the method of treatment in Serbia is not a bizarre thing. I did not have anything injected in my body. The treatment was solely on the surface.''