Arsene Wenger has reluctantly agreed to sell Robin van Persie to Manchester United for £23m. Arsenal confirmed on Wednesday that a deal had been tied up between the clubs and that the striker will travel to Manchester for a medical and to agree personal terms.
The clubs reopened negotiations over the striker on Tuesday night, after which it was merely a question of when Van Persie became a United player. Alex Ferguson feels the 29-year-old could be the signing to help United wrest the Premier League title back from Manchester City.
Wenger had done his best to persuade Van Persie to stay and he was loth to sanction his release to United. But he has admitted defeat as Van Persie has been adamant he wants to leave.
Arsenal's manager, asked on Wednesday night whether he would buy another striker, said: "We have already replaced him in buying (Lukas) Podolski and (Olivier) Giroud."We are sad to lose a player of his quality but he had one year left on his contract so we had no choice."
Van Persie made his intentions plain with a statement on 4 July, when he said he wanted to win trophies and that he and the club "in many aspects disagree on the way Arsenal FC should move forward". He has forced the club's hand by refusing to extend his contract, which has less than 12 months to run. Arsenal did not want to lose him as a Bosman free agent.
Arsenal have dug in to get their minimum £20m asking price. Before they departed for their pre-season tour of Asia on 21 July, to which Van Persie did not travel, the club had received bids from United, City and Juventus, none of which was for more than £15m.
It has helped United that Van Persie has been eager to join. He is excited at the prospect of playing with Wayne Rooney, who has spoken of his admiration for Van Persie. "He's a fantastic player," Rooney said.
"He's been amazing for Arsenal over many years. If he does come here, he would be a great additionto the squad."
Van Persie, moreover, buys heavily into United's tradition and playing style, whereas he is less keen on how City have spent lavishly to accumulate under the Abu Dhabi United Group. He was receptive to the idea of going to Juventus, although he had reservations about Serie A.
On Wednesday night United's midfielder Michael Carrick spoke of his excitement at Van Persie's impending arrival. "If it goes through, it will be brilliant," he said. "He had a terrific season and he will further strengthen our squad. It is a great boost going into the new season. He is a world-class player and we have always been about bringing in players of that ability. "Can it make the difference between second and first? There wasn't much difference so hopefully we can go that step further. But the club has always had strength in depth and it is about the squad and not the 11 on the pitch."Debut on Monday?
Ferguson believes van Persie will complete his move to Old Trafford in time to make his debut in the club's opening match of the Premier League season at Everton.
The Dutch forward was in Manchester on Thursday for a medical and discussions over his personal terms. Providing the medical and wage negotiations go smoothly, Ferguson is confident van Persie will pull on a United shirt for the first time at Goodison Park on Monday.