By John Cross
Robin van Persie is in danger of running out of options – and if Arsenal can complete a deal for Santi Cazorla, he may end up feeling rather like a spurned lover.
Van Persie has three clubs in for him: Juventus, Manchester City and Manchester United.
Juventus are desperate to sign him, have made an offer which has been rejected by Arsenal and are willing to give him a five year deal worth £190,000-a-week AFTER tax.
But with the Italian champions facing the prospect of having their manager, Antonio Conte, banned for for being caught up in the country’s match fixing scandal, he’s getting cold feet about a move there.
Juventus made a low opening bid which was duly rejected. They’ve been back in touch since but are still nowhere near Arsenal’s valuation.
Manchester United seem confident behind the scenes but there is a feeling that they will not increase their bid despite having had an offer of just under £15m knocked back.
United are acutely aware that van Persie is 29 this month, has a poor injury record and his resale value will be next to nothing. That does not fit in with the club’s transfer philosophy.
Maybe United feel that Arsenal will be forced to lower their price as August drags on as they would rather sell for less than £20m rather than losing van Persie for nothing next summer when his contract expires.
It is also believed that van Persie does not fancy Manchester City – even though they have submitted a bid for him. City are well aware of van Persie’s reservations which is why they are eyeing up alternatives like Gonzalo Higuain.
But City must also sell before they can buy. The club’s hierarchy want to offload three strikers from Carlos Tevez, Emmanuel Adebayor, Roque Santa Cruz and Edin Dzeko before signing another stellar name.
It leaves van Persie in a dilemma. After originally fancying Juventus, the prospect of losing the manager who led them to the title is hardly good news. All signs now point towards an Old Trafford, but United are a long way from a deal with Arsenal.
But it would be unthinkable for Arsenal not to sell him this summer. While Wenger wanting to take a stand is very admirable and wanting to keep van Persie is perfectly understandable, they simply must sell him. Anything else would be inexplicable under the current regime.
But that leaves van Persie – having already said he will not sign a new contract – in a real pickle.
Should he go to City against his better judgement?
Hope United come back in – even though that would be out of character for the club?
Or go to Juventus, a club in the middle of a storm?
Juventus were always going to have to try hard to tempt him to Italy. It’s become even harder now.
There appears to be no way back at Arsenal – and the fans may not accept him.
The club are already planning for life without him. Lukas Podolski is still TBC on the squad number list but is surely about to take van Persie’s ’10’ shirt.
Arsenal have also bought in Olivier Giroud. Podolski can play left, behind or through the middle and Giroud is a strong target man.
Wenger will have other options too as Theo Walcott will be on the right, Gervinho is in the mix and Andre Santos has been playing wide left in pre-season.
Then there’s Malaga’s Santi Cazorla. At 27 he is a top talent, has 45 caps for world and European champions Spain, and is regarded as being a technical player along the lines of Cesc Fabregas.
Cazorla will be offered a four year deal and is seen as being crucial playmaker in the number ten role for next season’s new look team.
Arsenal remain hopeful of signing Cazorla but it will not be an easy one. Malaga are in financial meltdown, contracts are proving difficult and it is causing stress.
It strikes me that if Arsenal do get their man then any move for Real Madrid starlet Nuri Sahin will be put on the back burner. They may sign both but, after pulling out of so many deals last summer, it would not be Wenger’s style.
Arsenal have been talking to Alex Song about a new contract. He has three years to run and there has been interest from Barcelona. If things develop on that front, then maybe Sahin will provide a clue.
But Arsenal are rebuilding, planning for life without van Persie – even before he has gone.
The Dutchman has just had the season of his life, scored world class goals and yet finds himself out in the cold.
What a bizarre scenario and summer this is proving to be. Or just the usual summer of transfer madness in Arsenal’s case.