Longtime Arsenal striker Robin van Persie is on his way out of London to join one of his team’s biggest rivals — Manchester United.
The 29-year-old Dutch international has been pushing for a move this offseason, and now, after trying in vain to persuade him to stay, Gunners manager Arsene Wenger has finally relented.
The Red Devils will pay Arsenal £23 million ($36 million) to complete the transaction, as reported by The Guardian. Van Persie will travel to Manchester on Thursday for a medical exam, the team said on its Web site.
Van Persie’s departure from Emirates Stadium, where he played for the last eight seasons, appeared inevitable last month when the striker said he would not sign a new deal with the club.
“I personally have had a great season but my goal has been to win trophies with the team and to bring the club back to its glory days,” Van Persie said in a statement on his Web site at the time. “Out of my huge respect for Mr. Wenger, the players and the fans I don’t want to go into any details, but unfortunately in this meeting it has again become clear to me that we in many aspects disagree on the way Arsenal FC should move forward.”
Van Persie scored a career-high 30 goals in the Premier League last season and another four in Champions League competition, but the Gunners never managed to win either during Van Persie’s tenure.
Manchester United came out on top in a bidding war that also included defending Premier League champions Manchester City and Italy’s Juventus, but no team was initially willing to match Arsenal’s £20 million asking price.
For the Red Devils, Van Persie — if he can maintain his form from last season — could provide a tremendous 1-2 punch up top alongside Wayne Rooney. When asked last week about how the Dutch striker could improve his side, Rooney offered praise. “He’s a fantastic player,” Rooney said. “He’s been amazing for Arsenal over many years. If he does come here, he would be a great addition to the squad.”
Now everyone gets to see just how great an addition RVP can be.
And while Arsenal fans might be cautiously optimistic about the ability of new additions Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud to fill the void in their attack, they can also consider one fact. The last time season the Gunners played without Van Persie was 2003-04. Their record that year? A league-best 26 wins, 12 draws and zero losses.