MANCHESTER: Manchester United completed their swoop for Arsenal striker Robin van Persie on Friday after the Dutch star passed a medical and agreed personal terms on a four-year contract.
Van Persie’s transfer, which is believed to have cost United around £24 million ($37 million) has been completed in time for the forward to make his debut in his new team’s opening Premier League game of the season at Everton on Monday.
The 29-year-old’s signing is a significant coup for United boss Sir Alex Ferguson after he persuaded van Persie to snub an offer from Premier League champions Manchester City in a favour of a move to Old Trafford.
“Robin van Persie has completed his medical, agreed personal terms and signed for Manchester United on a four-year contract until June 2016,” a statement on United’s website confirmed.
Ferguson had been desperate to land van Persie as he tries to wrestle the English crown back from City and he believes the former Feyenoord star’s arrival will be a massive boost to United’s title bid.
“Robin is a world-class striker with a proven record in England and in European football,” he said.
“His talents need no introduction to our fans – he has scored a number of goals against us in some classic battles with his former club.
“His movement, finishing and all-round ability are outstanding.”
Van Persie has long been regarded as one of the most talented forwards in Europe, but it was only in the last 18 months that he finally delivered on that vast potential.
He finished the 2010-11 campaign in blistering form and carried on in the same vein last term, scoring 37 goals in all competitions and winning both the players’ and football writers’ player of the year awards.
But despite those individual accolades, van Persie had only one major winners’ medal, from the 2005 FA Cup, to show for his eight years at Arsenal and he decided earlier in the close-season that he had to leave the Gunners to fulfill his desire to win the game’s top prizes.
Arsenal had no option but to give into van Persie’s demand for a move as he had only one year left on his contract.
Initially it seemed City or Italian champions Juventus would be his likely destination, but Ferguson’s powers of persuasion, and the lure of playing for a historic club like United, convinced the Dutchman to move to Old Trafford.
“The boy wanted to come. He turned down various clubs. If he hadn’t told Arsenal he wanted to go to Manchester United, the transfer wouldn’t have happened,” Ferguson added.
Ferguson admitted van Persie’s signing will give him a selection headache as he tries to give enough playing time to all four of his international strikers.
Van Persie is likely to start up front alongside Wayne Rooney whenever possible, but Ferguson also wants to keep Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez involved.
It is a pleasant problem to have and reminds the Scot of dealing with the demands of Dwight Yorke, Andy Cole, Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who combined to fire United to the treble in 1999.
“I have a complication to my life. I don’t know how I managed in 1999,” Ferguson said
“They can gel together. Robin’s best position is furthest up the pitch. The most important thing is to win what we want to win. These players can help us to do that.”
Van Persie described the chance to play for United as an “honour” and he has already set his sights on emulating the achievements of club legends like Eric Cantona, George Best and Denis Law.
“I am looking forward to following in the footsteps of so many great strikers, bringing my experience and playing my part to help the team compete for the biggest trophies in the game,” van Persie said. “I can’t wait to get started.”
“Let me make one thing clear, from my side, definitely – and, I think, Arsenal’s side as well – there are no hard feelings. There were just certain elements which are vital for me and we had a different view. That’s life. No-one is angry at me, I’m not angry at them.
“This is just a big challenge for me. I made it clear before that my views on certain elements were not similar to Arsenal’s but that’s life. Sometimes you disagree on things and I’m here now and I’m looking forward to a big challenge in my football life; the biggest challenge so far,” stated van Persie. Agencies