Speculation in Sunday’s newspapers claim that Arsenal striker Robin Van Persie is ready to join Manchester United – if the Red Devils offer wages of £220,000 a week.
That figure would put the Dutchman on level terms with England international Wayne Rooney, the highest earner at Old Trafford after signing a new long-term contract back in October 2010.
Tied to the club until 2015, 26-year-old Rooney has another three years left with the Red Devils, meaning talk of a new contract remains about 12-to-18 months away at this moment.
For Van Persie, his time at the Emirates Stadium would appear up, with only a year remaining on his contract and a lack of trophies starting to weigh heavy on the 28-year-old.
Signed from Feyenoord in 2004, last season’s Premier League Golden Boot winner has just one FA Cup winner’s medal to his name from eight-years in the English capital. In a shorter timeframe, Rooney has won four domestic titles, two League Cups and a Champions League.
It’s no surprise that the 68-cap international wants a piece of the action elsewhere, and with starting places at a premium with Manchester City, it would appear that United is the first choice for Van Persie.
That’s the suggestion of the Daily Mail at least, and whilst the signing would represent something of a gamble for Sir Alex Ferguson, it would be worth taking the risk on this particular player.
Injuries have blighted Van Persie’s time in the Premier League, but in the last 18 months he’s found some incredible form, coming back from an injury in November 2010 to score goals in all competitions for the Gunners.
A brief spell on the sidelines in March the following year hampered his progress, but in the last two seasons, ‘RVP’ has hit 59 goals in 81 competitive matches. Take out the contract situation, and you won’t find a player this good for £20 million anywhere else.
Put those numbers alongside Rooney’s as well, and you have the prospect of an attacking line-up capable of challenging – and beating – City to the title.
Rooney has scored 51 goals in 84 games over the past two seasons, with 35 of those coming in last year’s second-place effort. Danny Welbeck, currently the second striker at United, has scored 18 in 68, whilst Javier Hernandez has 32 goals in 81 appearances. Michael Owen has left, and Dimitar Berbatov appears set to do the same this summer.
That means the Red Devils have three ‘top level’ strikers at their disposal. At their prime, Ferguson would always have four to call upon. Think Cole, Yorke, Sheringham and Solskjaer in the great treble winning side of 1998/99.
Rooney, Van Persie, Welbeck and Hernandez could have the same impact, and would instantly send a message to United’s rivals both domestically and in Europe.
For many, the most important question will be whether the ‘big two’ can play together in the same team. Given that Rooney likes to play in a deeper role, it should be no-brainer, however.
That would allow Van Persie to remain higher up the pitch, where he does the most damage for club and country. Would that mean Rooney scores less goals in the 2012/13 season? Perhaps, but if Van Persie is putting the ball in the back of the net as much as last season, it wouldn’t matter.
And, if things aren’t working, Ferguson can obviously try different combinations up-front, as well as a 4-3-3 formation that would see Welbeck challenge Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia for a place out wide.
Whichever way you look at it, Manchester United are a better team with Van Persie in their side. Whilst their financial power might not be what it once was, we are led to believe that the club can still compete in the transfer market, and landing the Dutchman ahead of both the Citizens and Juventus would be a major coup for the club.
Whilst the Red Devils used to be the team to beat, it’s City who now hold that mantle in the Premier League. Signing Van Persie might just help United reclaim that position of power in English football.