Manchester United are planning for life without Robin van Persie and look certain to part company with the Dutch striker in the summer with a year remaining on his current contract.
The 31-year-old former Arsenal star stands to land an additional £10 million in loyalty bonuses if he sees out his four-year contract at Old Trafford.
But indifferent form and concerns over his fitness have led United to embark on a search for his successor with Paris Saint-Germain's Edinson Cavani and Bayern Munich's Thomas Muller both on the radar, according to the Evening Standard.
Ironically as Van Persie prepares to face his former club Arsenal at the Emirates tomorrow night, the talismanic marksman, who has been the Premier League's leading goal-scorer at both clubs, is openly facing a severe crisis of confidence.
Last week he admitted his form wasn't good enough.
“Three goals in nine games is not enough. Against Chelsea I had a nice chance and I had three options: chip it, go round the keeper or just straight at the goal. I chose the last and safest. If I wouldn't have thought it over I would just chip it. I just have to trust again in my intuition.”
Of the 35 players who have scored three or more goals in the Premier League this season, Van Persie has the worst shot conversion rate of any of them – a miserable 13.6 per cent according to Opta.
A closer look at Van Persie's statistics over the last three seasons tell their own story. Compared to this stage in previous seasons Van Persie has had more shots on goals but converted far fewer chances. It is also notable that Van Persie has failed to make one single assist this season.
Many inside United, including former chief executive David Gill, questioned whether a £64million investment in Van Persie which included £24m transfer fee plus his wages for four years - was prudent.
But Sir Alex Ferguson, who went to unprecedented lengths to push through the deal was vindicated when United regained the Premier League title from arch rivals City, with a prolific Van Persie leading the charge.
Last season, and following the arrival of David Moyes, stories started to emerge that the Dutchman was extremely unhappy.
Although he moved swiftly to deny there was a rift and happy to remain at Old Trafford his form, nonetheless, was on the decline.
Following Moyes departure and the arrival of Van Gaal it was anticipated his close working relationship with the former Dutch national boss would signal a return to form.
But it hasn't materialised and Van Gaal allows no room for sentiment when it comes to success.
The arrival of Radamel Falcao from Monaco on-loan was clearly a message of intent from Louis van Gaal but there are ongoing doubts whether United will make the deal permanent at the end of the campaign.
The 28-year-old Colombian is yet to complete a full game since joining in September and will be absent when United face Arsenal tomorrow as he battles to overcome an ongoing calf problem
It is unlikely United will recoup much of the £24 million they paid Arsenal for Van Persie but as they plan for the future they are prepared to write it off rather than invest further in a player whose best form looks to be behind him.
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