Robin van Persie has pulled out of Arsenal’s tour of Asia to try and force through a move to Manchester City.
Sources have told Goal.com that the Dutch striker has refused to travel on the club’s three-match trip to Malaysia and China, which begins on Saturday afternoon when the club flies to Kuala Lumpur for the first leg of the tour.
Van Persie has raised the stakes as he goes head-to-head with Arsenal in his battle to quit the club.
Manager Arsene Wenger is believed to have reluctantly accepted Van Persie’s position and the 28-year-old will remain at London Colney next week to train with the club’s academy and reserve players and the more established men who will be left behind to recover from injury such as Jack Wilshere, Bacary Sagna and Emmanuel Frimpong.
But, as revealed by Goal.com on Tuesday, it is understood that Arsenal will stick to its guns and play hardball with Van Persie by refusing to grant the Dutchman a simple exit out of the club this summer.
Contrary to widespread reports that Manchester United has made an official bid for the striker, it is understood that this is not the case and that the Old Trafford club has instead prioritized the signing of Brazilian playmaker Lucas Moura, and is also pursuing Real Madrid star Nuri Sahin
Sources have said that United’s neighbor Manchester City is in pole position to sign Van Persie and that a lucrative package is in place to take the reigning PFA Player of the Year to Etihad Stadium.
Despite Van Persie reiterating his stance that he wants to quit Arsenal before the transfer window closes and effectively going on strike, the club is ready to stick to its strategy of holding him to his contract, which expires in 11 months.
The north Londoners have calculated the striker will have less chance of being awarded a lucrative, four-year contract next year from one of his suitors because of his age – he turns 30 in August 2013 - and checkered injury history.
Van Persie and his representatives have calculated that they will force Arsenal into a sale by pushing even harder for a transfer than the likes of Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas.
The Dutchman delivered a bombshell with the statement via his own website on July 4, which effectively said he wanted to leave because he disagreed with Wenger and the board of directors "in many aspects … on the way Arsenal should move forward".
He also announced that he would not extend his contract before it expires next June.
Van Persie has risked tarnishing his legacy with Arsenal fans following his remarkable performances in the 2011-2012 season, when he scored 37 goals and inspired the team to third in the Premier League after a disastrous start to the campaign.
Arsenal flies to Kuala Lumpur on Saturday, for its three-match pre-season tour of Asia, which also takes in Beijing and Hong Kong, with the Gunners set to play Manchester City at Beijing's Bird's Nest stadium on July 27.
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- Manchester City