Manchester City and Juventus lead the chase for Robin van Persie after the Arsenal striker admitted he would not be signing a contract extension to stay at the Emirates Stadium as the club didn't match his ambition.
Juventus have already had an £8m offer turned down for the 28-year-old while City manager Roberto Mancini has repeatedly expressed his desire to sign the forward. Manchester City are believed to be prepared to pay around £20m for the Dutch forward, but may have to offload at least two of their current forwards to hasten a deal.
The outburst from Van Persie, delivered on his own website at tea-time yesterday, criticised Arsène Wenger, the manager, and 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, since that is not my priority at all.
"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.
"I've thought long and hard about it, but I have decided not to extend my contract. You guys, the fans, have of course the right to disagree with my view and decision and I will always respect your opinions.
"I love the club and the fans, no matter what happens. I have grown up and became a man during my time with Arsenal FC.
"Everybody at the club and the fans have always supported me over the years and I have always given my all (and more) on and off the pitch. I am very proud of being part of this fantastic club for the last eight years.
"As soon as Mr Gazidis is back from his two-week holiday in America further meetings will follow and I will update you if and when there are more developments.'
The move will shatter the belief of Arsenal six weeks before the start of the new season. Van Persie still has 12 months remaining on his contract at the Emirates and could see out that period out before leaving for nothing next summer.
His current club had put together a package believed to be worth around £130,000 a week to persuade the forward to stay, a deal that would have made him the best-paid player in Arsenal's history.
There was also a feeling that early summer moves for Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski should have given an indication that ambition still remained inside the Emirates' boardroom. However, Van Persie blew that belief away with his statement. Wenger now faces one of the greatest challenges of his 16 years in charge at Arsenal.
The club later issued a short statement which read: "We have to respect Robin's decision not to renew his contract. Robin has one year to run on his current contract and we are confident that he will fulfil his commitments to the club."
Manchester 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 package of around £250,000 a week.
Mancini has been told that with six well-paid strikers on the club's books – Sergio Aguero, Carlos Tevez, Mario Balotelli and Edin Dzeko, as well as the returning loan duo, Emmanuel Adebayor and Roque Santa Cruz – he must offload players as well as sign them this summer.
"Unfortunately in the meeting [earlier in the year, with Arsène Wenger and Ivan Gazidis, Arsenal chief-executive] it has again become clear to me that we in many aspects disagree on the way Arsenal FC should move forward.
I've thought long and hard about it, but I have decided not to extend my contract. As soon as Mr Gazidis is back from his two-week holiday further meetings will follow and I will update you if and when there are more developments."
Van Persie's: Arsenal record
*includes all competitions
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