Robin the red: Ferguson lines up bid for Van Persie but first he must fight off City
4 July 2012
Manchester United are preparing to gazump neighbours City and sign unsettled Arsenal striker Robin van Persie.
Sir Alex Ferguson is determined to land the Holland star, who confirmed he will not be signing a new contract at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday, as Sportsmail revealed on May 18.
In a damning statement, Van Persie questioned Arsenal’s ambition, saying he wants to win trophies but that he and the club ‘disagree on the way Arsenal should move forward’.
Ferguson wants the Barclays Premier League title back from Manchester City and does not intend to lose out on a player who scored 30 League goals last season.
Van Persie’s shock declaration was met with fury by Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger and chief executive Ivan Gazidis, who face yet another summer of losing their star.
The striker’s statement on his own website read: ‘As announced earlier this year, I had a meeting with the Boss and Mr Gazidis after the season. This was a meeting about the club’s future strategy and their policy. Financial terms or a contract have not been discussed, since that is not my priority at all.
‘I personally have had a great season but my goal has been to win trophies with the team and to bring the club back to its glory days. Out of my huge respect for Mr Wenger, the players and the fans I don’t want to go into any details, but unfortunately in this meeting it has again become clear to me that we, in many aspects, disagree on the way Arsenal FC should move forward.
'I’ve thought long and hard about it, but I have decided not to extend my contract. You guys, the fans, have the right to disagree with my view and decision and I will always respect your opinions.
‘I love the club and the fans, no matter what happens. I have grown up and became a man during my time with Arsenal FC. I am very proud of being part of this fantastic club for the last eight years. As soon as Mr Gazidis is back from his two-week holiday in America further meetings will follow and I will update you if and when there are more developments.’
Champions City will formalise their interest soon with manager Roberto Mancini desperate to land Van Persie, 28. City are prepared to offer a whopping £225,000-per-week, which is beyond United’s pay structure. But Ferguson will urge his club to push their financial boundaries and beat City.
Gunners officials were stunned by their captain’s statement. No-one at the club had been told it was coming. Wenger and Gazidis both contacted the player’s agent, Kees Vos, to read the riot act over what they perceive to be a blatant attempt to force a move. They are convinced Van Persie has a move lined up and view the player’s statement as an attempt to speed up the process.
Club officers were frantically trying to reach owner Stan Kroenke to update the American businessman. A club statement read: ‘We have to respect Robin’s decision not to renew his contract. Robin has one year to run on his contract and we are confident that he will fulfil his commitments to the club. We are planning with ambition and confidence for next season.’
Nevertheless, Arsenal insiders last night said the club are resigned to selling him this summer. The prospect of £20million is too good to turn down.