Mancini praises fantastic Van Persie as rivals prepare to meet

MANCHESTER City manager Roberto Mancini has praised sought-after transfer target Robin van Persie on the eve of today’s friendly against Arsenal in China.

Van Persie’s confirmation earlier this summer that he would not consider remaining at Arsenal beyond the last 12 months of his contract made an exit appear imminent and, alongside Manchester United and Juventus, City appear his most likely destination, even though Mancini remained cagey when asked about the talented striker.

“It is difficult to say this at this moment because he is an Arsenal player and he is not our player,” said Mancini. “We know that Van Persie is a fantastic striker, but we have four strikers and with these strikers we won the Championship last year.

“But still, Van Persie is a top player. We can say different things about this – but he is an Arsenal player.”

Since replacing Mark Hughes in 2009, Mancini has consistently spent significant sums of money on some of the world’s finest players but he was less evasive about their uncharacteristically quiet transfer activity so far this summer.

“Speak to the man in charge [football director Brian Marwood],” he said. “It is important [to get players quickly] because, after what we did last year, we must continue to win. This year will be harder than last so we need to improve our team.”