Manchester: Robin van Persie is set to complete a £ 22 million move to Manchester United today (Thursday) after Arsene Wenger sanctioned the sale of the Arsenal captain to Old Trafford following a day of haggling over the final terms of the transfer.
The Dutch forward, last season’s double Footballer of the Year, was supposed to fly from Brussels to Manchester Thursday morning after being with the Holland squad for Wednesday night’s friendly against Belgium and will undergo a medical before signing a £ 200,000-a-week deal with United. United have overcome opposition from neighbours Manchester City and Italian champions Juventus to sign the 29 year-old, who had made it clear to Arsenal that he would not be extending his contract at the club beyond its expiry next June. Van Persie’s defection from the Emirates to Old Trafford, a rarely trodden path, will see him become the first direct transfer from Arsenal to United since England defender Viv Anderson completed a pounds 250,000 move in 1987 to become Sir Alex
Ferguson’s first signing as United manager. United released a brief statement last night to confirm the agreement between the two clubs. The statement said: “Manchester United is pleased to announce it has reached agreement with Arsenal Football Club for the transfer of Robin van Persie. The deal is subject to a medical and the agreement of personal terms. A further announcement will be made in due course.”
The capture of Van Persie is regarded as a major coup by Ferguson and senior figures at Old Trafford, who regard the signing as a response to City’s recent dominance of the transfer market and a sign of the club’s ambition to recapture the Premier League title.
It is understood that Ferguson’s determination to sign Van Persie convinced the Dutchman that his future lay at Old Trafford, rather than at City, who failed to match Arsenal’s asking price or United’s salary offer. Van Persie is also believed to have placed high importance on playing for a club steeped in tradition and with a long history of success and United, along with Barcelona, who failed to join the pursuit of the player, were the forward’s favoured options when he announced his decision not to extend his Arsenal contract.
Although Wenger had been determined to retain Van Persie after losing Thierry Henry, Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri in recent seasons, the player’s decision to issue an incendiary statement in July, which questioned the club’s ambition and blueprint for the future, set in motion his exit from the Emirates. Following a meeting with Wenger and Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis, Van Persie said in a statement on the player’s website: “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 of course the right to disagree with my view and decision and I will always respect your opinions.” After being omitted from Arsenal’s pre-season tour of the Far East to “work on his fitness”, Van Persie was booed by travelling supporters during a friendly against Cologne in Germany at the weekend — an episode which accelerated Arsenal’s decision to reopen negotiations with United this week.
Talks resumed between the two clubs on Tuesday and United, who had opened their bidding for Van Persie with an £ 8million offer in July, ultimately raised their offer to £ 15million, with further payments based on Van Persie’s appearances, goals and silverware won as a United player. While falling short of the £ 25million initially demanded by Arsenal, the North London club claimed last night the deal could ultimately be worth £ 24 million, although United were adamant it was £ 22million. Van Persie’s signing may also help smooth growing dissent among United’s supporters following the recent move by the club’s American owners, the Glazer family, to raise £ 150 million in a partial share sale on the New York Stock Exchange. The £ 17million purchase of Japan midfielder Shinji Kagawa from Borussia Dortmund and a deal worth up to £ 6million for Crewe youngster Nick Powell ensure that United’s spending will break the £ 40million barrier with the acquisition of Van Persie, who is expected to make his debut at Everton on Monday evening.