Manchester: Manchester United have put together an astonishing £73 million package in order to sign Robin van Persie from Arsenal.
The Dutchman will sign a four-year contract understood to be worth £235,000-a-week once image rights are taken into account.
Van Persie knew that, at the age of 29 and in the form of his life, the next contract would be the biggest of his career, and it is no wonder that he did not even want to discuss Arsenal’s proposed £130,000-a-week offer.
That means he will earn £12.2m-a-year, a whopping £48.9m over the course of his United contract.
In addition to the £24m fee United are paying - with no obvious sell-on potential at the end of the deal - the 19-time English champions will spend a grand total of £72.9m on the former Feyenoord man.
Questions may well be asked as to where the money has come from, especially given the deep concerns over United’s finances, which has received plenty of publicity in light of the Glazer family’s flotation of 10 per cent of the club on the New York Stock Exchange.
But United chief operating officer Michael Bolingbroke had spoken of the club’s projection for a net spend of £40m in the summer transfer window.
The failure to land Lucas Moura - who has agreed to join Paris Saint-Germain from Sao Paulo for £35m - is likely to have freed up some of the budget for United to push for Van Persie.
In addition, United had already freed up the best part of £180,000-a-week in wages following the summer departures of Michael Owen, Park Ji-Sung and Tomasz Kuszczak.
United’s bid for Van Persie was aided by the player’s desire to move to Old Trafford, plus Sir Alex Ferguson’s clever ploy to ramp up the pressure on Arsenal to sell by publicly discussing his move for the Dutchman.
Van Persie, who scored 37 goals last season, made it clear from the outset that he wanted to leave the Gunners this summer, releasing a statement on his personal website last month announcing that he would not sign a new deal, meaning he would be able to leave for nothing next summer.
United were not always the front-runners for his signature, with their bitter rivals Manchester City initially leading the race for last season’s double player of the year.
City, however, pulled out of the running as they were unable to offload squad places and, perhaps more crucially, wages with the likes of Emmanuel Adebayor, Roque Santa Cruz and Edin Dzeko still at the club.
Interest from Italian giants Juventus cooled months ago, while Real Madrid and Barcelona ruled out moves for Van Persie, leaving United with a clear run to negotiate with Arsenal.
The Gunners were reluctant to do business with a Premier League rival but in the end felt they had no choice, choosing to hold talks with United and simply push for the best deal possible, just as they did with Samir Nasri in similar circumstances a year earlier.
Arsenal fans accused Nasri of being greedy and following the money, but the Frenchman had the last laugh when Manchester City won the Premier League title.
Van Persie will face similar accusations, and while the size of his contract will lend further weight to those arguing his move is motivated by money he must hope now that he too can say the same as Nasri next May.