Arsenal captain Robin van Persie could well become the first Gunner to join fierce rivals Manchester United under Arsene Wenger’s reign, with a move possible as early as this weekend.
The Daily Telegraph reports that United chief executive David Gill is set to step in to try and expedite a deal during talks with his Arsenal counterpart Ivan Gazidis in the coming days. Having already had offers of £10 million and £15 million rejected, were United to return with a bid in excess of £20 million then a deal is likely to be done, reports the Telegraph.
With Van Persie potentially set to leave on a free next summer, it is an offer that Arsenal’s board will be loathed to turn down. It is now over a month since Van Persie announced his intention not to sign a new contract with the Gunners.
Wenger remains hugely reluctant to sell the forward to a Premier League rival, however, instead preferring to send Van Persie to overseas suitors Juventus. The 29-year-old’s preference for a move to United is unlikely to change, though, especially with the news that Juventus boss Antonio Conte has been handed a 10-month ban for failing to report alleged match fixing during his tenure at Siena.
Although Wenger has already spent healthily this summer on recruiting Lukas Podolski, Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla, the departure of Van Persie would likely free up further funds to strengthen his squad. Repeatedly linked to a move in recent days is South Korean midfielder Ki Sung-Yueng. The Celtic star impressed during his country’s run to the semi-finals at the Olympics and is said to have been on the radar of Arsenal’s scouts for some time.
According to the Daily Mail the Gunners could face some competition should they pursue their interest. The report claims that last season’s Europa League winners are ready to table a bid of £6 million, the same price as Arsenal are said to be prepared to offer.
Ki could potentially be seen as a replacement at the heart of Arsenal’s midfield for Alex Song. The dynamic 24-year-old is continuing to be mentioned in connection with a move to Spanish giants Barcelona.
While new Barca boss Tito Vilanova refused to be drawn on the speculation earlier this week, defender Gerard Pique has discussed his views on the potential move.
“I have followed his career and he has become a very good player,” Pique said, according to Sky Sports.
“He is physically very strong and is good with the ball at his feet.”
“We are open to his arrival. If he comes, and from what I have read he could do, we would love to have him.”
The comments could well anger Wenger, especially as it follows similar remarks from Barcelona players leading up to Cesc Fabregas’ departure to the Nou Camp.
In other news, Arsenal look set to miss out on signing French youngster M’Baye Niang. The 17-year-old forward was taken on trial by the Gunners last month, but he now looks set to join Milan instead, according to the London Evening Standard.
The report claims that Wenger was not prepared to go in excess of £5 million for the Caen player, but Milan are ready to pay £400,000 for a season-long loan ahead of a potential £6 million permanent deal. Caen will also get first option on bringing Milan’s youth players on loan.