Manchester United completed their swoop for Arsenal striker Robin van Persie yesterday after the Dutch star passed a medical and agreed personal terms on a four-year contract.
Van Persie’s transfer, which is believed to have cost United about ￡24 million (US$37.6 million) has been completed in time for the forward to make his debut in his new team’s opening Premier League game of the season at Everton on Monday.
The 29-year-old’s signing is a significant coup for United boss Sir Alex Ferguson, after he persuaded Van Persie to snub an offer from Premier League champions Manchester City in a favor of a move to Old Trafford.
“Robin van Persie has completed his medical, agreed personal terms and signed for Manchester United on a four-year contract until June 2016,” a statement on United’s Web site confirmed.
Ferguson had been desperate to land Van Persie as he tries to wrestle the English crown back from City and he believes the star’s arrival will be a massive boost to United’s title bid.
“Robin is a world-class striker with a proven record in England and in European football,” he said. “His talents need no introduction to our fans — he has scored a number of goals against us in some classic battles with his former club. His movement, finishing and all-round ability are outstanding.”
Van Persie has long been regarded as one of the most talented forwards in Europe, but it was only in the last 18 months that he finally delivered on that vast potential.
He finished the 2010-2011 campaign in blistering form and carried on in the same vein last term, scoring 37 goals in all competitions and winning both the players’ and soccer writers’ player of the year awards.
However, despite those individual accolades, Van Persie had only one major winners’ medal, from the 2005 FA Cup, to show for his eight years at Arsenal and he decided earlier in the close-season that he had to leave the Gunners to fulfill his desire to win the game’s top prizes.
Arsenal had no option but to give in to van Persie’s demand for a move, as he had only one year left on his contract.
Initially it seemed City or Italian champions Juventus would be his likely destination, but Ferguson’s powers of persuasion and the lure of playing for a historic club like United convinced the Dutchman to move to Old Trafford.
Ferguson admitted Van Persie’s signing will give him a selection headache as he tries to give enough playing time to all four of his international strikers.
Van Persie is likely to start up front alongside Wayne Rooney whenever possible, but Ferguson also wants to keep Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez involved.
Van Persie described the chance to play for United as an “honor” and he has already set his sights on emulating the achievements of club legends.
“I am looking forward to following in the footsteps of so many great strikers, bringing my experience and playing my part to help the team compete for the biggest trophies in the game,” Van Persie said. “I can’t wait to get started.”
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