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Manchester United sealed the signing of the off-season last night when Arsenal agreed to sell Robin van Persie to their Premier League rivals for £24 million.
After weeks of negotiating with Arsenal and the Holland striker, United have beaten Manchester City and Juventus to Van Persie’s signature and the 29-year-old will have a medical at Old Trafford today.
Van Persie is the first Arsenal player to join United since Viv Anderson in 1987.
United are understood to have agreed a £15m downpayment for last season’s Footballer of the Year and Players’ Player – who scored 30 Premier League goals for last season.
That will rise to £24m depending on appearances. Van Persie is expected to sign a four-year contract worth more than £200 000 a week.
A statement on United’s website said: “Manchester United is pleased to announce it has reached agreement with Arsenal for the transfer of Robin van Persie. The deal is subject to a medical and the agreement of personal terms.”
In signing Van Persie, United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has laid down a clear marker ahead of the new season. It is the first time the club have paid for a big name since Dimitar Berbatov from Tottenham for £30.75m in 2008.
Having decided two or three years ago they would not sign players over the age of 27, United have signified just how far they are prepared to go to wrest the title back from City.
City manager Roberto Mancini will be particularly irritated that United have been allowed to steal his top target from under his nose, and this will test his strained relationship with the club’s football administrator Brian Marwood still further.
Van Persie was last night with Holland, who lost a friendly 4-2 to Belgium. He was expected to fly to Manchester early today.
Manager Arsene Wenger has the best part of two weeks to spend some of the money before the transfer window is closed.
He said on French TV last night: “It’s sad to lose a player of his quality. He had only one year left on his contract so we didn’t have the choice.”
Asked who he would recruit, Wenger said: “We already signed Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud.”
Michael Carrick, who was on duty with England last night, was first to comment on the deal.
He said: “He will further strengthen our squad. It is a great boost going into the new season.
“He is a world class player and we have always been about bringing in players of that ability.” –Daily Mail