Why it's now become a point of principle for Arsene Wenger NOT to sell van Persie to Manchester United
There are more than three weeks left in the transfer window and there's only one club left in the hunt for Robin van Persie.
Well, two actually.
That's because everyone appears to have disregarded Arsenal in this and just assumed that van Persie would be sold to the highest bidder.
Manchester United are the last club standing in the battle to sign van Persie. Van Persie has told Juventus he doesn't want to join them.
And in one of those conversations that are not supposed to take place between club and player, van Persie has done the same with Manchester City. So much for that being a done deal.
There's been interest from other mega wealthy clubs - Paris Saint Germain and Anzhi Makhachkala - but it's never got off the ground because he doesn't want to go to either of those.
I think he was seriously tempted by Juventus - until their title-winning coach Antonio Conte got embroiled in Italy's match fixing scandal. As someone in van Persie's management company tweeted, it was "hardly the advert" to go to Italy .
These days, people assume when a deal like this gathers momentum the it's just a matter of time before it happens, such is the power of the player in getting what he wants.
Trouble is, it is very apparent from talking to people (for the millionth time this summer) close to the deal on Wednesday that Arsenal do not want to sell to Manchester United. Full stop.
They see them as a direct rival. While Juventus might have had an offer accepted for £20m, the price for United is higher. I actually think £25m is a conservative estimate. If Arsene Wenger has his way then it will be £30m.
This has become a point of principle, a real issue for Wenger. And if anyone doubts whether the board can be resolute on transfers, just think back to 2010.
Cesc Fabregas wanted to go to Barcelona. Chief executive Ivan Gazidis refused to sell, steadfastly stuck to his guns, made Fabregas wait for 12 months, got a better price and eventually sold to Barcelona.
It became a point of principle.
Arsenal are similarly digging in over van Persie and unless United hit the right price then they will not sell.
Surely United won't top £20m for a player who is 29, with a poor injury record, one world class season in eight and will have no resale value in three years? Arsenal don't think they will.
However, if they do, then Arsenal might change their stance and sell for a price that is hard to refuse. Maybe on August 25 (few deals ever happen overnight) they may be tempted to lower their sights and sell rather than risk losing him for free next summer.
But that wasn't the impression I got on Wednesday. Arsenal have a price and United have to reach it.
Wenger is entrenched over this because last year it was Fabregas and Samir Nasri, this year it's van Persie. Who will it be next year? He wants to draw a line. I think Wenger, Arsenal and the board deserve credit for that. They may still sell for the right price, but now they are not going to be bullied by Manchester United.
There's every chance he'll stay with the training camp in Germany and play in Sunday's friendly with Cologne. Crucially, Arsenal still believe they may persuade him to stay.
His attitude has suggested that he would not sulk even if a move to United does not happen. It's in marked contrast to that of Fabregas last summer, who was desperate to join Barcelona and sulked all his way back to Spain.
However, if you analyse Arsenal's signings they are hedging their bets in case van Persie goes. Olivier Giroud: centre forward. Santi Cazorla: new playmaker to fill number ten role. Lukas Podolski can play wide, through the middle or just behind.
There's still a long way to go in this saga yet and Arsenal are being tough - but also realistic. The lessons have been learnt from last summer when they were forced into a mad supermarket sweep when Nasri went at the last minute.
Thankfully, they got the supermarket manager's bargain of the week with Mikel Arteta (what a buy he's proved to be!).
But it was rather amusing to read Sir Alex Ferguson's comments said after United's friendly in Gothenburg on Wednesday night.
Ferguson said: "We have made a bid and they've been trying to negotiate with other clubs. I don't have a gut feeling on it at the moment, I must admit.
"We're not getting any breakthrough with Arsenal. It's difficult to say why they're operating this way. I don't know what their thoughts are, because they're not giving anything away."
I hate the Twitter tit-for-tat generation. If you praise or criticise then a keyboard warrior jumps on you and says: 'yeah, but what about this?' Or: 'you said this in 2005.' Blimey, time to get out more. A tweet has only got 140 characters. You can't fit War And Peace on Twitter.
But, I'm going to risk becoming a keyboard warrior for a moment.
I was trying to think of times when Ferguson wouldn't sell a player to another specific club. Someone on Twitter duly reminded me.
Back in 2007, United had a similar saga when Gabriel Heinze wanted to move from Old Trafford to Liverpool, their deadly rivals.
Ferguson blocked it because it was Liverpool. It's deeply personal between Ferguson and Liverpool. But moreover, it was a direct rival. He didn't want to strengthen them.
Ferguson said at the time: "I can assure you, Liverpool will not be getting Gabriel Heinze. We can put that to bed right now and we have done so. We have had a couple offers for him and we have turned them down.
"Heinze's agents are rolling the ball all the time. But no matter what his agent thinks, we are in the driving seat.
"I don't exactly know what Gaby thinks because it is all coming from his agent but this has been going on for a year and a half now."
Heinze eventually went to Real Madrid that summer. Not Liverpool.
So when Ferguson talks about not understanding Arsenal's thought process, maybe Heinze can provide a timely reminder.
Finally, what about van Persie himself? Will he be accepted by Arsenal fans if he ends up staying after this whole saga?
Yes. If he scores a hat trick against Tottenham then that will buy him forgiveness.
I do think fans want to see Thomas Vermaelen made captain, though, whatever happens. A captain shouldn't flirt with another club (even though Fabregas did).
But fans do forgive and forget. Unless you are Emmanuel Adebayor who got booed when he stayed for another year. However, if van Persie goes to Old Trafford. then there's no way back. He'll be public enemy number one.
I wrote a column some weeks ago suggesting if van Persie went to Juventus then he'd remain a legend and fans would forgive . I even likened it to Liam Brady remaining a legend at Arsenal because he chose Juventus in the 80s while Frank Stapleton went to Manchester United and was seen as a greedy traitor. He's never been forgiven and never will. He's not a former Arsenal player as far as Arsenal fans are concerned. He is ex-United.
If van Persie went to Manchester City then he'd be public enemy number one, a traitor and would disgust Arsenal fans. There's too much history, too many players to have been tempted by City's millions and van Persie would be a hate figure.
I suggested Manchester United would not be quite as bad. Arsenal fans might understand his desire for trophies over City's cash. It would be bad, he'd be a hate figure, but not quite as bad as if he were to join City.
How wrong I was.
I got floods of replies saying that United was every bit as bad - if not worse. I put that partly down to newer fans seeing United as bigger rivals than Tottenham. That will never be the case with old school fans.
But van Persie will never be forgiven for going to United. He, like Stapleton, will no longer be a former Arsenal player let alone a legend. He will be ex-United when he retires. Thanks, good night and shut the door behind you.
So, make no mistake. The next few weeks will decide how van Persie is remembered. He could yet start the season at Arsenal as Nasri did last year - and then move. If United come back with a huge offer then he could go very quickly.
But this one has the potential to run and run. And the longer it runs with the deal still being played out as a transfer saga, the uglier it will become.