Arsenal bombshell: Van Persie rejects contract, City move on?

Robin Van Persie

Striker says he 'disagrees' with club over its future and won't sign a new deal

BY Bill Mann LAST UPDATED AT 16:15 ON Wed 4 Jul 2012

THE NIGHTMARE has come true for Arsenal fans after Robin van Persie announced he will not sign a new contract with the Gunners. It now seems inevitable that the 28-year-old Dutch striker he will leave the Emirates after eight years at Arsenal, amid fevered speculation he will tread the well trodden path to Manchester City, following the likes of Emmanuel Adebayor, Gael Clichy and Samir Nasri.

In a bombshell statement on his website Van Persie said he wanted to set the record straight. "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.

He confirmed that he had held talks with Arsenal but added: "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."

Those opinions are likely to be forthright, but the next time the fans get to express them Van Persie will not be wearing Arsenal kit.

And as if Wenger doesn't already have enough on his plate he could also end up fighting off Barcelona as they reportedly sniff around Gunners defender Thomas Vermaelen.

New Barca boss Tito Vilanova wants to sign a new centre-back but has missed out on first choice Thiago Silva of AC Milan. Now, according to Spanish rag Sport, he is now considering alternatives including Bayern Munich's Holger Badstuber, Athletic Bilbao’s Javi Martinez and 26-year-old Vermaelen. The Catalans appear to have seen sense and gone cold on Chelsea's David Luiz.

Barcelona have expressed a passing interest in the Arsenal man before, but their chances of getting hold of Vermaelen appear slim. The highly-rated Belgian recently signed a contract extension at the Emirates and announced that he would stay at the Gunners "forever".

One player who may actually be bidding farewell to London is much-derided striker Nicklas Bendtner, who spectacularly failed to win over the Emirates faithful during his time at Arsenal. Indeed, where he to follow Vermaelen's lead and declare himself a Gooner for life there would probably be a riot. Fortunately for everyone in north London, the Daily Mail reports that there is now interest for Malaga and Galatasaray.

Could the Liverpool and England striker Andy Carroll be on his way to AC Milan? According to the Daily Mirror, Carroll "caught the eye" of the Italian club during Euro 2012 and they are now actively pursuing the striker.

Milan is owned by former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and it was his son, Pier Silvio, who noted Carroll's header for the Three Lions against Sweden. The Mirror quotes Berlusconi Jnr as saying: "I'd like Andy Carroll. I must admit that for his build, and after seeing his header in the Euros, I would like to have Carroll at Milan."

Berlusconi has acted as a transfer advisor in the past for Milan, who have recently begun to clear out their ageing squad. Veterans such as Clarence Seedorf and Mark van Bommel have been released while their current star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, is also the wrong side of 30. "This is a new era for Milan," said Berlusconi. "We will continue to get younger while maintaining the culture."

The race is on to sign yet another teenage sensation to step off the production line at Southampton. The latest wonderkid hoping to follow in the footsteps of Theo Walcott, Gareth Bale and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is 16-year-old Luke Shaw.

The teenager, who has only made one appearance for the Saints, in an FA Cup tie against Millwall last season, has attracted interest from Arsenal, Manchester City and Manchester United. But Chelsea have made the early running by making an offer of £4m for the player, who has represented England at under-16 and under-17 levels, according to the Metro.

Shaw goes professional next week when he turns 17 and the newly promoted south coast club say he will join up with the first-team squad for pre-season training, and Southampton are determined that this time they will not let the player slip through their fingers.

Poundland's profits may have soared in recent months but it seems no one is keen on snapping up Dimitar Berbatov at a bargain price.

The beanpole Bulgarian striker is believed to want out of Old Trafford after spending much of last season warming the bench, but in an interview with MUTV, United boss Alex Ferguson said "nothing has happened" on the transfer market as far as the 31-year-old frontman is concerned.

United jet off shortly on their pre-season tour to South Africa and China and Ferguson said he expects Berbatov to be on the plane despite strong rumours he's looking for a new club next season. Fergie appeared to acknowledge the Bulgarian's blues, admitting 2011/12 hadn't been a great season for him, thoiugh he insisted: "I don't think I treated Dimitar unfairly, but he can feel disappointed that he didn't get more football."

With England flop Wayne Rooney and young gun Danny Welbeck set to start for United next season Berbatov has been linked with several German and Italian clubs but as yet there have been no takers.

That's not the case with Inter Milan full-back Maicon, however, with the Brazilian blocker on the verge of sealing a £6m switch to Chelsea. According to the Metro, the 30-year-old Maicon is wanted by Blues boss Roberto di Matteo and he's due to sit down for talks with the player's agent in London later this week.

The Metro claims that Chelsea have already "agreed a £6 million fee with Inter" and all that remains is for Maicon to settle his personal terms with the European champions before putting pen to paper. Apparently he's likely to sign on for a three-year stint at the Bridge with a weekly pay packet of  £80,000, a sign that everyone – even Roman Abramovich – is having to tighten his belt in these tough economic times.

Talking of tough, Chelsea could have a fight on their hands to snare Benfica ace Axel Witsel. The Belgian midfielder is on Di Matteo's summer shopping list but Dutch rag De Telegraaf says Real Madrid are now trying to push to the front of the queue.

Chelsea are reportedly prepared to go as high as £20m for the 23-year-old Belgium international but Real are said to have first dibs on Witsel because of an agreement reached with Benfica over their signing from the Spanish giants of Rodrigo Moreno.

Still with Benfica and Talksport reports that Everton have "been given the green light" to sign Oscar Cardozo. The Toffees will have to rustle up £16m if they want the Paraguay international, as that's Benfica's valuation of the striker who joined them from Argentine club Newell's Old Boys in 2007.

Apparently Everton boss David Moyes had originally been tracking Croatia's Mario Mandzukic, but when he moved to Bayern Munich the canny Scot turned his beady eye on Cardozo. An offer is said to be imminent from Everton as Moyes looks to beef up his squad ahead of the new season. · 

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