Roberto Mancini confident of beating Manchester United to signature of Robin van Persie
City still to table a bid for the Arsenal striker but do not expect a repeat of battle for Nasri
Roberto Mancini, the Manchester City manager, is privately confident that Manchester United do not pose a threat to him buying Robin van Persie, despite the growing sense that Sir Alex Ferguson will make one big move in the transfer market this summer in an attempt to prise back the Premier League title.
City have not yet tabled a bid for Van Persie, their top summer transfer target, though Mancini has no sense that United are preparing to provoke a repeat of last summer's chase for Samir Nasri by making a move of their own. The Premier League champions have felt for several weeks that they are getting close to agreeing personal terms with the Arsenal captain, who has also been shown around houses in the North-west by City.
But despite Mancini's relaxed outlook where last season's runners-up are concerned, United do have the funds for one big-money transfer this summer and Ferguson, who knows that the prospect of taking the title back off City will be vastly more difficult if they have Van Persie, may well argue the case for making the 28-year-old that signing. Though the player's age means that this would be a £20m outlay with minimal sell-on potential, a United side with Wayne Rooney operating behind Van Persie would be dangerous.
United's policy of not paying substantial sums for players who are over the age of 27 goes right back to 1997, when Henning Berg and Teddy Sheringham were the last outfield players of that age – Dimitar Berbatov aside – for whom United have paid more than £3m. But Berbatov proves there can be an exception to the rule and though United are unlikely to match the salary Rooney secured for himself in October 2010, a substantial signing-on fee could ease Van Persie's way to Old Trafford.
Arsenal, who did not move yesterday to speak to Van Persie after his declaration of intent to leave, would be far more willing to negotiate with United than with City – the club to whom Arsène Wenger has declared he would not sell another player.
If United do seek to capitalise on the situation, they may feel they can exploit the gap between Mancini – who once again wants to do early business – and his football administrator Brian Marwood, who must marry the Italian's desire with the strictures of Uefa's financial fair play regime. There is already frustration in the Mancini camp that Marwood is delaying on a formal opening bid for the Dutch striker.
Van Persie's determination to leave provoked the most outspoken attack yet on the Arsenal board by the club's second biggest shareholders, Alisher Usmanov and Farhad Moshiri, who have written to owner Stan Kroenke expressing "deep reservations" about how the American is running the club. Usmanov and Moshiri said in the letter obtained by the Associated Press that a "tight" financial regime is leading to Wenger "selling his best players and having to continue to find cheaper replacements".
Arsenal said last night that the letter, demanding a rights issue to reduce the club's debt and bring in funds, had "been received and the contents considered". But privately, the club are unmoved by this latest attack on their strategy by Usmanov and remain utterly convinced that a self-sustaining financial model is the right way ahead after 15 successive seasons in the Champions League.
Usmanov, who has been resolutely ignored by Kroenke, added: "It appears that a place in the Champions League will be the pinnacle of our achievement again next season. Unfortunately, in the future we may see this ambition lowered further."
Latest in Sport
Raheem Sterling to Manchester City: Winger to report for Liverpool training on Monday but Reds braced for third City bid this week
Women's World Cup 2015: England secure third place as they beat Germany in extra time with penalty by Fara Williams
Liverpool to confirm Sean O'Driscoll and Pep Lijnders for Brendan Rodgers' backroom coaching staff
Manchester City transfer news: City determined to sign Paul Pogba and meet £71m British transfer record
PornHub begs users to stop uploading video clips of Brazil getting beaten 7-1
- 1 Humans of New York image of crying gay teen receives best response yet from Ellen DeGeneres
- 2 What supermodels really think about posing in the nude
- 3 North Korean defector flees to Finland 'with evidence of chemical testing on humans'
- 4 Black teen in critical condition after store employee 'shoots him for stealing 79-cent pack of cookies'
- 5 Swedish minister gives strongest case yet on why EU should stop turning away asylum seekers
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
Osborne to cap family benefits at £23,000 – announced ahead of his post-election Budget