Sir Alex Ferguson today confirmed that Manchester United had made a bid for Arsenal captain Robin van Persie and may have sparked a bidding war in the process. The 28-year-old Dutch international has made no secret of his wish to leave the Gunners in spite of repeated attempts by the club to retain their talisman skipper.
Van Persie took over the captaincy following the transfer of Cesc Fàbregas to Barcelona at the start of last season and virtually carried the side into a third place finish. It was only his goals that enabled the Gunners to claw themselves back into a Champions League spot after a disastrous start to the campaign. In April he became only the second player to score against 17 different Premier League opponents in a single season. Van Persie led the scoring in the Premier League with 30 goals and is currently Arsenal’s 8th all-time top scorer with 132 goals. He was voted Player of the Year for 2011-12 and Arsenal have set a value of around £25 million.
Obviously United failed to match this figure with their first bid and Manchester City and Juventus having also fallen short but it would be no surprise to see the race for his signature hot up in the coming days. There is speculation that the opening salvo from United was in the region of £15 million which does not sound nearly enough. However, you also have to factor in Van Persie’s likely wage demands.
The reason for Van Persie’s insistence that it is time for him to move on is a supposed lack of ambition at the Emirates Stadium. For all his service to the club, Van Persie only has one FA Cup winner’s medal (2004-05) to show for it. After seven years without silverware, it is not difficult to understand his desire to move on. Arsenal have flattered to deceive on numerous occasions in recent years and last summer’s sale of Fabregas and Nasri left Van Persie carrying a huge weight on his shoulders. At 28, he probably feels that he needs to move now or never if he is to realise his ambitions for league and Cup success. He would certainly be a big loss to the Premiership if Juventus were to come back with an increased bid. Arsenal have delayed a decision on whether or not Van Persie will be part of their pre-season tour with Arsene Wenger apparently opposing his inclusion. Wenger has already signed two new strikers in Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud but are monitoring Spain international Fernando Llorente should Van Persie leave.
Ladbrokes can hardly split the Manchester clubs in the race for Van Persie’s signature with City a shade of odds-on at 10-11 and United at 5-4. Juventus are the only serious challenger at 9-2 with Barcelona available at 10-1, Real Madrid at 14-1 and Chelsea at 20-1.
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