City lead chase after Van Persie delivers parting shot at Wenger


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The Independent Online

Manchester City and Juventus will lead the chase for Robin van Persie after the Arsenal striker said he would not sign a contract extension to stay at the Emirates Stadium, as the club did not match his ambition.

Juventus have had an £8m offer turned down and City are believed to be prepared to pay around £20m.

The Dutchman delivered a statement on his website at teatime yesterday that criticised his club's manager, Arsène Wenger, the chief executive, Ivan Gazidis, and the direction Arsenal, who have not won a domestic trophy since 2005, are taking.

"I personally have had a great season but my goal has been to win trophies with the team and to bring the club back to its glory days," he said. "I have kept quiet all this time out of respect and loyalty for the club and as agreed with Mr Gazidis and Mr Wenger, but since there is so much speculation in the media, I think it is fair for you guys to know what's really going on at the moment.

"As announced earlier this year I had a meeting with the boss and Mr Gazidis after the season. This was a meeting about the club's future strategy and their policy. Financial terms or a contract have not been discussed. Out of my huge respect for Mr Wenger, the players and the fans I don't want to go into any details, but unfortunately in this meeting it has again become clear to me that we in many aspects disagree on the way Arsenal FC should move forward."

The statement concluded: "As soon as Mr Gazidis is back from his two-week holiday in America further meetings will follow."'

Van Persie has 12 months left on his contract and could see out that period before leaving for nothing next summer.

Arsenal had put together a package, believed to be worth around £130,000 a week, that would have made him the best-paid player in their history. There was also a feeling that early-summer moves for Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski should have given an indication that ambition remained inside the Emirates boardroom.

City, who signed Gaël Clichy and Samir Nasri last summer, have the financial might to blow Arsenal out of the water with a potential salary of around £250,000 a week. City's manager, Roberto Mancini, has been told he must sell players as well as sign them, but that is unlikely to diminish his desire to bring Van Persie to the Etihad as he prepares a challenge for the Champions League.