FOOTBALL: Manchester United, Manchester City and Juventus fired the first shots today in a three-way battle to sign Arsenal's Robin van Persie.
Reports claimed the three clubs made opening bids for the Dutch striker, with United's being rejected by the Gunners. City and Serie A outfit Juventus are also believed to have fallen short of the London club's valuation.
The three clubs are believed to be willing to pay around £15 million for van Persie, but Arsenal want in excess of £20m.
It appears that Arsenal have little hope of persuading van Persie to stay at Ashburton Grove. The Netherlands international has one year left on his current deal and has already told the club he has played for since 2004 that he does not want an extension.
Van Persie enjoyed a stellar 2011-12 season, scoring 41 goals in 53 games for club and country, while he was also named Professional Footballers' Association and Football Writers' player of the year.
The club will now hope to avoid a situation akin to last season when the futures of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri were up in the air at the beginning of the campaign, with both departing late in the summer transfer window.
Nonetheless Arsenal are believed to want up to £25m for van Persie, who has insisted that his decision not to sign a new deal is about a disagreement over the direction of the club, not money.
After meeting manager Arsene Wenger and chief executive Ivan Gazidis in May, van Persie said: "I personally have had a great season but my goal has been to win trophies with the team and to bring the club back to its glory days.
"Out of my huge respect for Mr Wenger, the players and the fans I don't want to go into any details, but unfortunately in this meeting it has again become clear to me that we in many aspects disagree on the way Arsenal FC should move forward."
Arsenal have already signed two new strikers in Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud, but reports have also claimed they have lined up Spain star Fernando Llorente were van Persie to leave.