Sir Alex Ferguson?s confirmation last week that Manchester United had made a bid for Robin van Persie could spark a bidding war with local rivals City. The Arsenal captain has only one year left on his contract with the Gunners and has made it clear that he is interested in moving on. United, City and Juventus are thought to be the three prime candidates for his signature.
Van Persie took over the Arsenal captaincy following the departure of Cesc Fàbregas to Barcelona last summer. After a woeful start to the season that included a humiliating loss at Old Trafford, Van Persie rescued the Gunners with 36 League and Cup goals. Arsenal eventually finished third and deprived North London rivals Tottenham of a Champions League spot. Van Persie topped the scoring in the Premier League with 30 goals and is currently Arsenal?s eighth all-time top scorer with 132 goals. The Dutch international was voted Football Association and Football Writers? Player of the Year for 2011-12 and Arsenal have set a value of around £25 million.
Manchester United failed to meet Arsenal?s figure with their first bid and Manchester City and Juventus are also believed to have fallen short but Ferguson?s statement could bring Premiership champions City back to the table. There is speculation that the first offer from United was in the region of £15 million, at least ten million short of Arsenal?s expectations. The risk for clubs selling players with a year left on their contract is that they over-price them and end up letting them go for nothing in 12 months time.
Van Persie issued a statement on his facebook page explaining why he felt it was time to move on and was critical of Arsenal?s lack of ambition. Van Persie only has one FA Cup winner?s medal (2004-05) to show for his service to Arsenal and the club has now gone seven barren years. Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has denied any lack of ambition at the Emirates Stadium and points to their fifteen consecutive qualifications to the Champions League as evidence. However, at 28 years of age, Van Persie clearly wants more than Champions League qualification and feels he would do better elsewhere. Wenger has decided that Van Persie should now join the squad on their pre-season tour and has already signed two new strikers in Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud.
The bookmakers see it as a two-horse race between the Manchester clubs with City odds-on at 10-11 and United at 5-4. Juventus are third favourites at 9-2 with Barcelona available at 10-1, Real Madrid at 14-1 and Chelsea at 20-1.