Sir Alex Ferguson claims Manchester United interest in Robin van Persie

The Gunners captain has rejected a new contract and, although his team want to keep hold of him, the Red Devils boss says that he is one of several managers keen on the striker
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has claimed that he is interested in signing Robin van Persie from Arsenal.

The Gunners captain has already pulled out of his club's pre-season tour of Asia in the hopes of forcing a move away as the battle over his future continues.

Wayne Veysey
Chief Correspondent

"Having seen his side score more goals last season than any other in the previous decade and with a midfield in desperate need of restoration, Sir Alex Ferguson's comments on Van Persie are as interesting as they are a surprise.

"Whether it be posturing on behalf of owners growing increasingly unpopular with fans or a genuine attempt to steal the Dutchman from under Manchester City's noses is up for debate, but either way United recognise that it is the middle of the pitch in which they need to improve next season, with Darren Fletcher's future uncertain and Paul Scholes nearing retirement (again). As such Lucas Moura remains the priority for the Premier League runners-up this summer, while an approach for Real Madrid star Nuri Sahin is also being considered.

"Even if - and it remains an if - Van Persie leaves Arsenal, it would take something really rather special for Fergie to lure him to Old Trafford and away from the riches on offer at their cross-city rivals. As a signing it would certainly be a coup but, like Ferguson's comments, something simply doesn't look quite right."
Premier League champions Manchester City are believed to be closest to the Dutchman's signature, but Sir Alex has insisted that the Red Devils are one of several sides to have their eye on the forward, who has less than 12 months to run on his contract at the Emirates Stadium.

"Obviously Arsenal have given out the fact that we've made a bid for him," Sir Alex told MUTV.

"We try to keep business as close as possible to us until the moment we conclude a deal. There's no point talking about something that might not happen.

"There are other clubs interested in the player. We've shown an interest and that's where we're at at the moment."

Van Persie scored 36 goals in all competitions for Arsenal during the 2011-12 campaign, playing a big part in dragging an underperforming side to third place in the Premier League.

The Dutchman was also honoured as by both players and football writers as the division's outstanding individual for his efforts.

But he refused to sign a new deal this summer, with the Gunners believed to be prepared to gamble on losing him for free in 2013 rather than sell him to a rival before the new season.

If he does leave, Van Persie would become the seond captain of the north London side to depart in as many summers, after Cesc Fabregas ended a protracted transfer saga in 2011 by finally completing a £35 million return to his boyhood club, Barcelona.