The negotiations over Robin van Persie's future have been complicated by the Dutch striker having indicated to Arsenal that his first choice of the three clubs pursuing him is Juventus.
Van Persie has not ruled out the possibility of going to one of the two Manchester clubs, and his first choice from those two would be United, but if possible he would prefer to go to the current Italian champions. Of the three, Juventus are the least financially powerful but in an ideal world the player would rather leave the Premier League than play for one of Arsenal's rivals.
Negotiations to sell Van Persie are expected to develop this week with the player's representatives keen to move the situation along. The club have been told that it is Juventus whom Van Persie would prefer to join and it is the preference of Arsène Wenger, above, that he would not go to Manchester City, but there are serious doubts over whether the Italians could come up with a deal acceptable to Arsenal. The asking price is thought to be between £20m and £25m with Van Persie seeking a five-year contract worth in excess of £120,000 a week contract. Both sides, the player and the club, are agreed that any deal will not hinge on a question of money for Van Persie – if it did he is well aware that his best option would be City – although it does now appear to come down to whether Juventus can formulate a deal.
Juventus had been favourites to sign the Napoli striker Edinson Cavani this summer but have not yet done so. The club are still recovering financially from their demotion to Serie B after the 2006 calciopoli scandal, and posted losses in their last published accounts of £75m for the 2010-11 season. Like all leading European clubs they are also trying to comply with Financial Fair Play regulations.
At 29 years old, with a less-than-perfect injury record and the prospect that he will be a free agent next summer, Van Persie, for all his qualities, is not a simple player to arrive at a price for. There has been significant discrepancy on what he is worth to the clubs interested.
United would like to do a deal for the player but they are aware that they are always likely to be outmuscled on the price by City, if it comes to that. City have stayed in touch over Van Persie in spite of knowing they are third in the pecking order.