SIR Alex Ferguson has been warned it will take an “unbelievable” offer to persuade Arsenal to sell Robin van Persie to him.
Gunners manager Arsene Wenger will not sell for less than £20m — and will demand a premium fee of more than £25m from Fergie and Manchester United because Arsenal do not want to do business with a direct Premier League rival.
Meanwhile, Juventus, who have also been chasing the Dutch striker, have claimed van Persie has told them he will not move to Italy, but was signing for another club.
Wenger still believes he can persuade van Persie to stay, even though United are expected to make an improved offer for him before the end of the week.
Van Persie trained with his team-mates at Arsenal’s pre-season camp in Germany on Wednesday night, ahead of their away friendly against Cologne on Sunday, and the club insist nothing has been agreed with United.
“We have made a bid and they’ve been trying to negotiate with other clubs,” said Ferguson after United’s friendly against Barcelona on Wednesday night.
“I don’t have a gut feeling on it at the moment, I must admit.
“We’re not getting any breakthrough with Arsenal. It’s difficult to say why they’re operating this way.
“I don’t know what their thoughts are, because they’re not giving anything away,” Ferguson said.
Even though van Persie has been training hard and is understood to be impressed with Arsenal’s summer spending spree, his statement that he will not sign a new contract to replace the one that expires at the end of the coming season still leaves them with a major dilemma.
Arsenal do not want to risk losing van Persie on a free transfer next summer, which may tempt them to sell even if the signs are encouraging that the striker is having a change of heart.
The Mirror understands that van Persie has told Manchester City that he does not want to join them.
Now Juventus are out of the running, United are likely to test Arsenal’s, and van Persie’s, resolve with another bid.
But Wenger and the club’s hierarchy are determined to hold out for a much bigger price if they end up selling to a rival.
Arsenal are not convinced United will meet their asking price because of van Persie’s age — he turned 29 at the start of this week — and the fact he is only one year away from leaving the Emirates on a Bosman.
Elsewhere, Wenger may consider a big offer from Barcelona for Alex Song, but is under no pressure to sell as the midfielder’s contract does not expire until 2015.
Arsenal would also want a ready-made replacement to be lined up before doing business with Barca.
They have been tracking Real Madrid’s Turkish midfielder Nuri Sahi, who’s also been linked with Liverpool, for a one-year loan deal.
Rennes and France midfielder Yann M’Vila has also been a long-term target.
Remind yourself of all the twists and turns in the van Persie saga with our transfer timeline, and read Steve Stammers’ column on why Arsenal fans should remember Robin’s model pro-conduct since that infamous contract statement.