Mark Warburton has emphatically rejected gossip linking Robin van Persie with a shock summer switch to Rangers. Social media has been awash with frenzied speculation throughout Thursday (28 July) and several bookmakers even suspended betting on the former Arsenal and Manchester United striker departing Turkish giants Fenerbahce for the somewhat less temperate climes of southern Glasgow.
Reports appear to have originated in Turkey, with The Sun among the British publications to run with the story earlier this morning. Van Persie would become the 10th player to join newly-promoted Rangers ahead of their first campaign in the Scottish top-flight since entering liquidation and being demoted to the fourth-tier back in 2012, although their manager insists it is simply not happening.
"Robin Van Persie is an unbelievably talented player, but there is absolutely no truth in the rumour," former Brentford boss Warburton, who has already completed deals for the likes of Joey Barton, Niko Kranjcar, Clint Hill, Jordan Rossiter and Joe Dodoo so far this summer, was quoted as saying by Rangers' official Twitter account. "I'm both bemused and amused. There is no substance whatsoever. I'm sure someone is laughing somewhere."
Rumours regarding Van Persie's imminent exit from Fenerbahce appear to have been stoked by his omission from their squad for Wednesday night's Champions League third qualifying round first-leg tie against AS Monaco. An injury issue meant that the 32-year-old was expected to start on the bench, but he was eventually left out altogether by Vitor Pereira as the hosts recorded a 2-1 victory at Sukru Saracoglu Stadium, courtesy of an Emmanuel Emenike brace that came either side of an effort from the returning Radamel Falcao.
Van Persie, who almost joined Rangers from Feyenoord in a £3m deal back in 2002, left Old Trafford after three years to follow former teammate Nani to Istanbul last July. He subsequently netted 22 goals in 48 appearances across all competitions as the 19-time Turkish champions finished second in the Super Lig, five points adrift of winners Besiktas. The political situation in the country has since deteriorated rapidly with this month's bloody failed coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Stoke City are among the clubs also linked with the vastly experienced 101-cap Dutch international over recent weeks, and West Ham and Crystal Palace among the other Premier League outfits allegedly offered his services. Bar a wage cut, any suitor hoping to seal a deal for Van Persie will have to take into account his reported earnings of £240,000-a-week.