I've got a new Fab Four! £250k-a-week Van Persie fires up Fergie ahead of new season
Sir Alex Ferguson has warned his rivals that he has assembled one of the most fearsome strikeforces in Europe as Manchester United tied up their £24million capture of Arsenal’s Robin van Persie.
The Dutchman is set to make his United debut in Monday’s Barclays Premier League opener at Everton after having a medical in Manchester on Thursday while his representatives negotiated personal terms in the region of £250,000 a week, or £12m a year, the same as Wayne Rooney.
Van Persie, 29, will now join forces at Old Trafford with Rooney, Javier Hernandez and Danny Welbeck, who greeted his arrival on Thursday by promising ‘goals galore’ this season.
Fab fours: (top left-right) Javier Hernandez, Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie and Danny Welbeck and 1999 team (bottom left-right) Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Teddy Sheringham, Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke
Ready for action: Van Persie arrives for his United medical
Add the creative spark of Shinji Kagawa and Ferguson believes he has an attack to rival the unstoppable combination of Andy Cole, Dwight Yorke, Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who fired United to a League, Champions League and FA Cup Treble in 1999.
Asked about pairing Rooney with Van Persie, Ferguson said: ‘They’re two fantastic players and it’s great to have them both. What gives us even more strength are the combinations I have up front. If you go back to the 1999 season when I had Dwight and Andy, Teddy and Ole Gunnar, they were the four best strikers in Europe.
‘I think I’m getting towards that now. I’ve got Chicharito, Wayne, Robin, Danny Welbeck and Kagawa. It’s a fantastic collection of players — hopefully I pick the right combinations. It’s great to have a player of Van Persie’s quality come into the squad.
‘The fee has been agreed and we’re delighted with that, of course. Obviously we hope that his medical goes according to plan. Sometimes medicals take a bit longer but I’m sure he’ll be available for Monday’s game.’
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Launch: Sir Alex Ferguson was speaking at the club's link-up with sponsor bwin
Knowing that Van Persie had only 12 months left on his contract, Arsenal finally relented in their fight to stop the striker from joining United and accepted an improved offer on Wednesday.
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The arrival of last season’s Premier League top scorer threatens Welbeck’s starting spot alongside Rooney, but the young England striker echoed his manager by insisting United will benefit from the competition for places.
‘It’s going to be shared out and hopefully once you’re out there it’s goals galore for Manchester United,’ said Welbeck.
‘He’s a player with great ability and a world-class striker. He can score goals and create goals as well. They’re the type of players who win you titles.
‘It’s given the club a massive boost, everyone is delighted to have him. I’m really looking forward to playing with him.
‘It’s good to have competition. At United there’s no time to sit back anyway. You never get time to rest on your laurels. You’ve always got to work hard because there are always things to improve on.
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WELBECK ON SQUAD ROTATION
‘I think once the season gets underway the manager will be good with squad rotation. But it’s a good problem for him to have.’
Welbeck also welcomed Ferguson’s comparison to the team of ’99. Asked if the four strikers are all capable of making their mark, he said: ‘Yes, definitely. We’ve got a good variety of strikers and we’re all capable of scoring goals.
‘I was a massive United fan and watched that whole season all the way through. Cole, Yorke, Sheringham, Solskjaer — that was a great strikeforce.
‘Being at United you learn to play with different types of strikers and players. Once we get training together I think everyone will be gelling perfectly.’
Final hurdle: The protracted deal will, Ferguson hopes, be concluded in time for RVP to face Everton
Concern had been growing in the United camp during pre-season that their strikers have lacked sharpness in front of goal. But sources said that the mood had been transformed by Van Persie’s imminent arrival.
And Rio Ferdinand believes that Van Persie, who scored 37 goals last season, will not disappoint.
‘There have been many players who have come to Manchester United and not met expectations,’ he said. ‘Expectations here are higher than anywhere in the world — some do brilliantly and some don’t fare quite so well. I’ve got no worries about Robin, though. He’s a very good professional.
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'I know his main aim won’t be a selfish one — it will be all about winning trophies. And if he can score goals like he did last year then we’ll all be smiling come the end of the season.
‘We’re bringing a big name into an environment that already has a lot of big names, especially in the forward department, so it’s definitely going to shake things up. But it’s going to be great for the squad.’
Michael Carrick, who was on duty with England on Wednesday, also commented on the deal.
He said: 'Someone mentioned in the dressing room about Van Persie and if it goes through, it will be brilliant. He had a terrific season and he will further strengthen our squad. It is a great boost going into the new season.
'He is a world class player and we have always been about bringing in players of that ability.
'Can it make the difference between second and first? There wasn't much difference so hopefully we can go that step further! But the club has always had strength in depth and it is about the squad and not the 11 on the pitch.'