Manchester City boss has dropped a subtle if fairly significant hint that the club will swoop to sign Arsenal striker Robin van Persie in the summer.
The flying Dutchman has been in imperious form for the Gunners this season and the fact that he is stalling over a new contract, along with Arsenal’s struggles to maintain their place in the Champions League, has alerted some of Europe’s biggest clubs to the possibility of making a splash for the 28-year old in the summer.
City are one of the few clubs on the continent that could afford Van Persie and could also offer him the chance to win trophies if he decides that he needs to leave Arsenal – who haven’t won a trophy since 2005 – to fulfil his ambitions.
Arsenal have become something of a feeder club to City in recent times, with Samir Nasri, Gael Clichy, Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Adebayor all moving to the club from the Emirates and Mancini hinted that he would be willing to stage another raid on North London in a few months time.
“We are interested in all good players,” he said.
“I think all the good teams are interested in him. At this moment Van Persie is one of the best strikers in Europe with Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Sergio Aguero and Mario Balotelli (nice plug for your own man there Roberto).
“If there is a good player who wants to leave the club, then we are interested. I think he is a fantastic striker but I think he will remain at Arsenal.”
Van Persie hasn’t given any real indication yet that he will leave the Gunners, although fans will be worried by the fact that he has delayed any negotiations over a new contract until the summer. If Wenger’s side haven’t ensured qualification for next season’s Champions League by that stage, then the writing could be on the wall.
Mancini attempted to dampen speculation somewhat by suggesting that the fee may be a hindrance (it’s never been a problem for City before) and that Arsenal would be extremely reluctant to sell, but the crafty Italian will be wary of upsetting Arsenal too much, having caused ructions in the past for speaking openly about signing Samir Nasri.
“If he leaves I don’t think he will be cheap because he has one year left on his contract,” Mancini added.
“If, for example, you wanted to buy Napoli’s Edinson Cavani he would be maybe £30 million.
“I think Van Persie will sign a new contract. He is Arsenal’s best player and it is difficult for them to give him to another club.”
Difficult, but not impossible, eh Roberto?