Manchester United have shot into pole position in the race to sign wantaway Arsenal striker Robin van Persie.
Earlier this week Roberto Mancini virtually conceded defeat in his attempts to lure the Dutchman to City and Juventus, the other contenders in a three-way battle, are now thought to have cooled their interest after being confronted with his hefty wage demands.
That leaves the Reds at the front of the queue – and M.E.N. Sport understands van Persie could jet in to sign as early as tonight.
The targetman, who turned 29 on Sunday, was photographed training with his team-mates on Monday in Germany where the Arsenal squad are currently on tour.
They take on FC Cologne on Sunday but it is unlikely van Persie will still be a Gunners player by then.
The twist is the latest in a long-running saga that has gathered pace in the last seven days. Mancini had made no secret of his desire to bring van Persie, the current Footballer of the Year, to the Etihad Stadium.
But he appeared to throw in the towel on Sunday, going on record to state it was ‘unlikely’ that the move would happen.
And reports in Italy earlier this week claimed that the Turin giants had also given up their pursuit.
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Van Persie’s inclusion in Arsenal’s tour party fuelled speculation that he would perform a U-turn and sign a new deal at the Emirates.
But he is known to favour a switch to Old Trafford where he would form a mouthwatering partnership with Wayne Rooney.
And the indications are that the deal is now finally expected to go ahead – which would send a clear message across Manchester that the Reds are determined to wrestle back the Premier League title.
Arsenal are demanding £25m for van Persie although the final fee is expected to be around £20m.
The transfer would also back Fergie’s claims that his spending budget has not been hampered by the huge debts the club incurred by the Glazer family’s takeover.
Meanwhile, a United delegation is expected to fly to the US ahead of the Reds’ flotation on the New York Stock Exchange.
M.E.N. Sport understands that United will float on Friday in a bid to raise around £190m although it is not yet known if an official from the club will ring the famous bell that kicks off the day’s trading at the Big Apple stock exchange.
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