MANCHESTER: Robin van Persie became the latest big-name player to slip from Arsenal's grasp when the Netherlands striker completed his move to Manchester United on a four-year deal yesterday.
Van Persie agreed personal terms and passed a medical examination to complete a transfer that is believed to have cost United about £24 million ($38 million).
"I am looking forward to following in the footsteps of so many great strikers, bringing my experience and playing my part to help the team compete for the biggest trophies in the game," Van Persie said. "I can't wait to get started."
While Arsenal will be happy to have recouped such a big fee for a 29-year-old player who has had many injury problems in his eight years at the club, Van Persie's departure nevertheless deprives manager Arsene Wenger of his captain and the league's top scorer last season with 30 goals.
In fact, Van Persie becomes the fifth Arsenal captain to leave the club since 2004, after Patrick Vieira, Thierry Henry, William Gallas and, in the preseason of 2011, Cesc Fabregas.
Van Persie's future at Arsenal has looked bleak ever since he issued a statement on his personal website last month saying he disagreed with the direction the club was heading.
The London team hasn't won a trophy since 2005, when it beat United on penalties to capture the FA Cup.
"Let me make one thing clear, I don't want things to get twisted," Van Persie said. "From my side and Arsenal's side now, there are no hard feelings. It's just certain elements are vital for me and we had different views."
The Netherlands international also spoke of his excitement at playing alongside players such as Wayne Rooney, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs.
"Of course I'd love to play with Wayne," Van Persie said. "I've said many times before he is a world-class player all-round. Scholes and Giggs are world class and have been proving it for 20 years now. That had a big impact (in my decision), definitely. I'd like to say we are all in it together to achieve greatness."