MANCHESTER: Robin van Persie completed his controversial transfer to Manchester United insisting there are no hard feelings with his former club Arsenal and revealing that his inner child convinced him to move to Old Trafford.
The Dutch international is expected to make his United debut in the season opener with Everton on Monday after the formalities were finalised over his reported $37 million transfer from Arsene Wenger’s side.
Van Persie admitted that it was a hard decision to leave North London after eight successful years but that, ultimately, United’s was the proverbial offer he could not refuse.
“I always listen in these situations, when you have to make a hard decision in your life, to the little boy inside me,” said van Persie after signing a four-year contract at Old Trafford.
“What does he want? That boy was screaming for Man United.
“Let me make one thing clear, from my side, definitely – and, I think, Arsenal’s side as well – there are no hard feelings. There were just certain elements which are vital for me and we had a different view. That’s life. No-one is angry at me, I’m not angry at them.
“This is just a big challenge for me. I made it clear before that my views on certain elements were not similar to Arsenal’s but that’s life. Sometimes you disagree on things and I’m here now and I’m looking forward to a big challenge in my football life; the biggest challenge so far.”
Van Persie was heavily tipped for potential moves to champions Manchester City or Italian giants Juventus this summer before protracted talks between United manager Sir Alex Ferguson and Wenger resulted in him making the move to Old Trafford – a transfer which angered the majority of Gunners supporters, judging by their outcry.
“I think everyone knows me by now,” added van Persie, explaining his decision.
“I’m a lover of football, in that respect I am quite principled. It’s always difficult to find the perfect match but I do feel this is the perfect match for me.
“Man United breathes football. If you look at all the players for Man United, the stadium, the manager – my choice was made very soon in my mind, based on these things.”
Ferguson, whose relationship with Wenger has gone through difficult periods during their long rivalry in the English game, personally called the Frenchman to ease the van Persie transfer through its closing stages and joked that he met his match in the negotiations.
“It was amicable, I must say,” said Ferguson of his talks with Wenger.
“Arsene knew the boy wanted to leave and wanted to join us, that made it a bit easier, then it was just the fee.
“He could win a poker school in Govan, him (Wenger)! I think he’s got a great price and we’re happy also that the matter is concluded. From a starting position when we first negotiated, Arsene’s done well.”
For his part, van Persie has clearly been enthused by the prospect of linking with established United stars, as part of a strike force that already boasts the lethal England forward Wayne Rooney.
“Yes,” said van Persie when asked if Rooney’s presence at United influenced his decision.
“But we’re all in it together. Of course I would love to play with Wayne Rooney, I’ve said before that he is a world-class player. He can score a lot of goals, he can make assists, he can play for the team, he works hard – he’s world class.
“Then you have (Paul) Scholes, (Ryan) Giggs – they, to me, are world class and have proved it for 20 years now. That had a big impact on my decision, definitely, but I have to say we are in it together – every single player – to achieve greatness.
“I’d like to be part of that greatness. They did it already and I didn’t, so I’d like to do it.”