How Man Utd signed Ruud van Nistelrooy and Robin van Persie


Robin was different, a proven Premier League predator, who had matured into one of the division’s top players at Arsenal. He was coming up for 29 and the problem was the competition for his signature. Manchester City’s fans were so convinced he would follow Gael Clichy, Kolo Toure, Emmanuel Adebayor and Samir Nasri in trading the Emirates for the Etihad that they chanted his name during a game between the clubs.

As van Persie rejected attempts to extend his contract with the Gunners, it left the Londoners fearing losing their talisman for nothing in the following summer. Juventus showed real interest and hoped they would be in a better position to do business with Arsene Wenger’s side. It took the personal touch from Ferguson to get the deal done.

”It was a difficult one,” Sir Alex told Inside United, the official club magazine, at the time. “Understandably, Arsene didn’t want to sell to Manchester United. If you look at the last 25 years, apart from when I first came down, since the day Arsenal won the league in 1989, right up to today, we’ve been really big rivals to each other – whether it’s been George Graham or Arsene Wenger. It wouldn’t be easy for Wenger to accept the player wanted to come to us.


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