Manchester City prepare van Persie bid
First it was Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Adebayor. Then came Gael Clichy and Samir Nasri. And now Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini has dropped his biggest hint yet that he is set for another raid on Arsenal for contract rebel Robin van Persie.
Van Persie, 28, is out of contract at the Emirates in 12 months' time and so far talks with Arsenal, postponed until the end of the season, have failed to see him commit his long-term future to the club.
The Gunners are prepared to make van Persie, last season's Premier League top scorer with 30 goals, the highest paid player in their history with a four-year, £130,ooo-a-week deal which includes a £5million signing on-fee understood to be on the table.
Van Persie, though, is reluctant to put pen-to-paper before seeing what business boss Arsene Wenger does in the transfer market this summer after seven successive seasons without a trophy.
Both his wife, Bouchra and mother, Jose, have urged him to stay loyal to the club he joined in 2003, but with Van Persie due to turn 29 in August he knows he is fast running out of time to challenge for the game's biggest honours.
City boss Mancini has made no secret of his admiration for the Holland striker and admitted recently he felt Van Persie would be a "perfect" addition to his Premier League-winning squad.
Napoli's Edinson Cavani is another striker the Italian tactician has been heavily linked with in recent months, however, Mancini is in no doubt who he'd rather bring to the Etihad Stadium.
"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," said Mancini.
Were van Persie to swap the Emirates for the Etihad he would become the fifth player to do so in the last three years with Toure, Adebayor, Clichy and Nasri all heading up the M1.
Any potential move will also hinge on Mancini's ability to offload one of his current strikers, with Edin Dzeko the most likely to depart amid reported interest from Champions League beaten finalists Bayern Munich.
"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," said Mancini.
Arsenal chief executive, Ivan Gazidis, has another meeting planned with Van Persie's agent, Kees Vos, next week after another round of discussions on Monday, failed to find an agreement.