Arsenal striker Robin van Persie's decision to not sign a contract extension has opened up, as was expected, a bidding war for the services of the Dutch forward who netted 37 goals last season, in all competitions, for the Gunners. In a statement on his own Web site, the player announced he was not convinced the club shared his ambition of winning trophies and he would look to move on as soon as possible.
The decision was met with a host of different reactions, one of which was former Arsenal legend Ray Parlour urging manager Arsene Wenger to sell van Persie and move on to new players. On a more official note, while Arsenal reluctantly accepted their captain's decision, it is still unclear if they will allow van Persie to move on before the start of the season or hold him to the last year of his contract and watch him leave next year as a free agent.
Meanwhile, a number of clubs have been linked to the player over recent months and most of them seem to continue to display interest in the 28 year old attacker who joined Arsenal in 2004 from Dutch club Feyenoord. The Sun reports Ligue 1 club Paris St Germain (PSG) and Spanish powerhouse Barcelona are among the interested parties. Carlo Ancelotti and Tito Vilanova's sides have both long been linked with moves for the Dutchman and are expected to make official inquiries soon.
The Sun's report also suggests Italian champions Juventus will re-ignite interest in the player; an earlier IBTimes UK report suggested an £8mn bid had been rejected. That rejection will not, the Daily Mail adds, serve to keep Antonio Conte's side away. It seems the Italians are prepared to break their wage structure in order to sign van Persie, something they may well need to do considering City's involvement. As of now, goal keeper Gianluigi Buffon is their highest earner, with wages in the region of £100,000 per week but van Persie, if he signs on, could take home as much as £180,000 per week. They still have quite some catching up to do. City could be prepared to offer him £225,000 per week.
Meanwhile former Spanish and European champions Barcelona are also interested but have a surplus of attacking options at the moment, with Argentina's Lionel Messi and Spain's David Villa and Pedro leading the list. Villa, who is still out injured with a broken leg, could be the sacrificial lamb needed to reunite van Persie with Cesc Fabregas.
The list of big clubs doesn't quite end there. Another report on the Daily Mail links AC Milan with a move for van Persie. The Rossoneri may struggle to raise transfer funds though and could be forced to allow Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic to leave in order to bring van Persie to the San Siro.
In any case, Wenger will be loathe to lose yet another star player after the acrimonious departures of midfielder Samir Nasri and left back Gael Clichy to Manchester City was followed by the even more humiliating exit of Fabregas to Barcelona. In fact, that last transfer alone will probably serve to fire him up and ensure the player, when he does leave, does not head to the Camp Nou. The Daily Mail reports that Sir Alex Ferguson and Manchester United may also be contenders for van Persie's signature.
In the meantime, as controversial as van Persie's decision to leave Arsenal is, the whole saga could become very messy indeed, if Wenger's fears that his star player could be acting to force a move to English champions Manchester City turn out to be true. In the aftermath of van Persie's decision, the Telegraph reported that City were set to offer £20mn for the player who, it seems, gave his club and manager no warning of his intentions to leave. The matter was made worse because Wenger has been repeatedly quoted as saying he was confident his star striker would not leave. Unfortunately, the player's statement is now being seen as a way to generate interest from other clubs and force an exit from the Emirates.