Gunners reject United's £10m Van Persie bid
Arsene Wenger has told Robin van Persie that he will not be sold for a cut-price fee and may be forced to see out the final year of his contract at Arsenal after they rejected bids for him from Manchester United, Manchester City and Juventus.
Van Persie has made it clear that he will not sign a new contract and Wenger will confirm this morning that he has controversially omitted his captain, and most famous player, from the squad who will today fly to Malaysia for the club's promotional tour of Asia.
United, City and Juventus are all attempting to capitalise on the uncertainty, with Alex Ferguson yesterday taking the unusual step of publicly confirming his interest in a rival club's player.
United, though, now fear that Arsenal are holding out for as much as £30m and believe that the club's long-standing rivalry with Wenger's team will provide another obstacle to winning the race for Van Persie.
When asked about the bid at a press conference in Cape Town last night ahead of today's friendly against Ajax in Cape Town, Ferguson initially denied the offer, claiming: "I've not said anything about Van Persie."
But, in an interview to MUTV, the club's in-house television station, shortly before the press conference, Ferguson said: "Arsenal have given out the fact that we've made a bid for him. We try to keep business as close as possible to us until the moment we conclude a deal.
"There are other clubs interested in the player. We've shown an interest and that's where we're at at the moment. You know we try to do business before we announce anything. I've got nothing more to add to it."
The three bids for Van Persie are understood to have all been made this week and fall well short of Arsenal's valuation. Manchester City indicated that they would pay £12m, while Juventus and Manchester United both suggested a fee of around £10m.
Arsenal will not listen to offers below £20m and, after getting £24m last summer for Samir Nasri, are holding out for a fee in excess of £25m for a player who was the top scorer in the Premier League last season.
It all points to a prolonged saga, with much likely to depend on the attitude of Van Persie. If he accepts that Arsenal will not sell him for less than £20m, he could conceivably be forced to see out a contract that expires next summer. If he continues to push for a move and Wenger feels that the unity of his squad is threatened, Arsenal will have to decide whether they are willing to compromise on the fee.
Van Persie is interested in the options of Juventus and Manchester United, but the financial firepower of City still make them favourites. City, though, want to find buyers for some of their strikers, including Emmanuel Adebayor and Roque Santa Cruz, before making a serious move for Van Persie.
Arsenal are expected to release a brief statement today before Wenger answers media questions tomorrow for the first time since Van Persie announced his desire to leave.
Wenger will claim that he has left Van Persie out of the club's pre-season tour because he did not regard him as match fit following Holland's involvement in Euro 2012. This explanation, however, is bound to be met with considerable scepticism, particularly as Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Olivier Giroud are all expected to fly to Malaysia today.
Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Giroud all returned later from Euro 2012 than Van Persie, whose Holland side were eliminated in the group phase.
Although the Asia tour does provide limited opportunity for training amid the travel and the schedule of three matches in six days, Van Persie's non-involvement will be interpreted in some quarters as an acceptance that he will leave.
Nicklas Bendtner has also been omitted from the touring party, with Arsenal ready to listen to offers for the Denmark striker. (© Daily Telegraph, London)