By Chris Bascombe
With Manchester City appearing to accept defeat in the race for theArsenal striker, and Juventus baulking at the player’s wage demands,United are moving quickly to conclude a deal.
Their willingness to match the £220,000 a week wages earned by Rooney has tipped the balance in their favour. The financial rewards will be staggering for the 29-year-old Dutchman at Old Trafford, and somewhat unprecedented given the stage of Van Persie’s career.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s determination to reclaim the title from City, as he enters the twilight years of his managerial reign, could not be clearer. For the United manager to parade Van Persie, while Mancini frets about missing out on a player he had made clear he wished to add to his squad, will be a bold reassertion of Old Trafford spending power.
City’s Premier League win in May was a euphoric climax to years of Abu Dhabi-financed rebuilding, albeit at a lavish price, but the excessive expenditure has been curtailed so far this summer as the newly-crowned champions look to run their business more sensibly.
Riled by the loss of their title and no doubt stung by criticism from their own supporters that their unpopular owners aren’t spending enough, United appear to be going the other way with their Van Persie chase. There is a sense of neighbourhood watch about the Van Persie pursuit, with the Manchester clubs recognising the threat the striker’s presence will have on each club’s aspirations.
To invest so heavily in a player who, as a striker, may have only three years of his prime remaining not only demonstrates United’s ambition, but is also indicative of how desperate they are and how willing to abandon usual spending policy to reclaim their No 1 status.
Signing Van Persie for such astronomical figures makes sense from a footballing perspective, but not necessarily from a business one.
United’s most recent transactions have tended to take both into equally careful consideration, with Ferguson targeting younger players with years ahead of them and a potential sell-on value.
On this occasion he appears to be concerned solely on the immediate, short-term benefits – possibly reflecting how long he himself has remaining at the helm at Old Trafford.