By John Richardson

Sunday Express Sport can reveal that Old Trafford is the Arsenal striker’s favoured destination – but the Gunners must first agree a transfer fee with last season’s Premier League runners-up.


United, along with champions Manchester City and Juventus, have lodged a bid for the wantaway star, who has only 12 months of his Emirates contract left to run.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is demanding £30million, but none of the offers is anywhere near that because the Dutch star turns 29 a week tomorrow and his contract is running down.

Van Persie, who has turned down a three-year contract worth £130,000 a week to extend his stay at Arsenal – plus a £5million re-signing bonus – believes a move to Premier League rivals United would enhance his chances of winning long-overdue silverware.

The Dutchman has gained only an FA Cup winners’ medal at Arsenal and he doesn’t believe they are equipped for a concerted Premier League title challenge.

But to join Manchester United he is still expecting a huge increase in his wage packet.

The Old Trafford hierarchy have been made aware that Van Persie expects the same financial rewards as the club’s highest-paid player, Rooney, who is on around £220,000 a week.

It is understood that United are prepared to meet Van Persie’s demands, providing they can agree a fee of between £15m and £20m with the Gunners.

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has already expressed his frustration at what he regards as a lack of action by his club in pursuit of a player he believes would enhance their chances of retaining the title.

But City’s money men are insisting that the decks are cleared before hardening their opening bid for the striker.

The club is desperate to offload expensive outcasts Emmanuel Adebayor, who is wanted by Spurs, and Roque Santa Cruz, while there are also doubts over the future of Carlos Tevez and Edin Dzeko.

Mancini wants the signing of Van Persie to take precedence, with any sales to come later.

United, though, are in pole position to sign the Holland international, and their agreement to Van Persie’s wage demands endorses manager Sir Alex Ferguson’s claim that the club’s much-criticised owners, the Glazers, will provide financial backing in the transfer market.

Owen Hargreaves is training with QPR following his release by Manchester City.

The 31-year-old midfielder, who has won 42 England caps, has been plagued by injuries since joining Manchester United for around £17million from Bayern Munich in 2007.

Rangers boss Mark Hughes said: “Owen is training with the group. There is no obligation for either party.

“He is keen to retain his fitness, and we are more than happy to help him by allowing him to train with us and use our facility at Harlington.”