By Chris Wheeler and Sami Mokbel
Roberto Mancini has indicated that Manchester City will move for Robin van Persie this summer if Arsenal fail to persuade their Holland striker to sign a new deal.
Van Persie is out of contract at the Emirates in 12 months’ time and City’s Italian manager has made no secret of his desire to reunite last season’s Premier League top scorer with his old Arsenal team-mates Samir Nasri and Gael Clichy.
It would still take an offer in the region of £25million to sign Van Persie, but Mancini believes that is more realistic than the £45m price tag Napoli have put on his other target, Uruguay striker Edinson Cavani.
He said: ‘Who would I choose between Van Persie and Cavani? The Dutchman is a champion, while the Uruguayan has everything and I wanted to take him to Inter Milan when he played at Palermo. But it’s impossible to sign Cavani at his current price – with Van Persie it’s different.
‘Van Persie is a top-class player. His situation is different than when we signed Clichy and Nasri. It was difficult for Arsene Wenger to keep them in London. We will sign a striker if one of our forwards leave.’
Edin Dzeko looks likely to be the striker to make way at City this summer, with Juventus ready to compete with any bid from Bayern Munich.
Mancini insists he has no intention of selling Mario Balotelli and also believes Carlos Tevez will stay after settling his differences with the club.
‘Balotelli will stay for sure,’ he said. ‘I forgive Tevez and he will stay unless he asks to leave.’
Arsenal are taking a hardline approach to their contract negotiations with Van Persie.
The club’s chief executive, Ivan Gazidis, met with Van Persie’s agent, Kees Vos, for another round of discussions on Monday, but still no agreement has been reached.
Arsenal have offered Van Persie a new three-year deal worth £130,000 per week – plus a £5million signing-on bonus.
The Dutchman is stalling on the deal, and Sportsmail understands one of the reasons is the club’s unwillingness to offer him a fourth year. Arsenal sources have indicated the existing deal on the table will not be improved.
Meanwhile, Jack Wilshere will endure gruelling double pre-season training sessions as Arsenal prepare him for his long-awaited return.
The midfielder missed the whole of last season with ankle and foot problems before undergoing surgery to clear up a tendinitis complaint in his left knee.
Once the 20-year-old’s rehabilitation from his latest surgery is complete, he will embark on a series of double summer training sessions designed to get him up to speed in time for the new season.