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'Honored' Van Persie targets titles after Manchester United arrival

updated 12:04 PM EDT, Fri August 17, 2012
Robin van Persie was the English Premier League's top scorer last season with 30 goals.
Robin van Persie was the English Premier League's top scorer last season with 30 goals.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Robin van Persie says he is "honored" to have signed for Manchester United
  • The striker signed a four-year deal with United after finalizing his move from Arsenal
  • United manager Alex Ferguson hails Van Persie as "a world-class striker"
  • Midfielder Alex Song could follow Van Persie out of Arsenal after being linked with Barcelona

(CNN) -- Robin van Persie officially arrived at Manchester United from Arsenal on Friday, declaring he was "honored" to be spearheading the Old Trafford club's hunt for a 20th English league title.

The Dutch striker is in line to make his United debut in Monday's Premier League fixture against Everton after signing a four-year deal until 2016.

He has never won a league title with Arsenal -- where his only trophy was a domestic cup seven years ago -- or at his previous club Feyenoord.

"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. I can't wait to get started," the 29-year-old said in an official statement.

Van Persie, who finished last season as the English first division's top goalscorer with 30 goals, moved to Arsenal from the Netherlands in 2004. He went on to score 96 goals in 194 appearances, being named club captain last season.

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He had been linked with United's crosstown rivals, Premier League champions Manchester City, as well as Italian league winners Juventus.

"In these situations, when you have to make a hard decision in your life, I always listen to that little boy inside me. What does he want? That boy was screaming for Manchester United," Van Persie told reporters on Friday.

"Everyone knows me by now. I love football. I am quite principled in that perspective. It is always difficult to find the perfect match but I do feel this is the perfect match for me.

"Manchester United breathes football. If you look at all the players from Manchester United, the stadium and manager, my choice was made very soon."

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United manager Alex Ferguson hopes Van Persie can combine with England forward Wayne Rooney, who finished second behind his new teammate in the goalscoring stakes last term with 27 goals.

"Robin is a world-class striker with a proven record in England and in European football," said Ferguson.

"His talents need no introduction to our fans -- he has scored a number of goals against us in some classic battles with his former club. His movement, finishing and all-round ability are outstanding.

"If you go back six months ago, I couldn't see us getting him. I thought Arsenal are not going to let him go. When I read he had refused a new contract, that is when we acted. It has been a long haul."

Following the recruitment of Van Persie, Ferguson drew parallels with United's current strike force and the group of goalscorers he had at his disposal when the club won a treble in 1999, being crowned European champions and English league and FA Cup winners.

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"In 1999 I had Dwight Yorke, Andy Cole, Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the four best strikers in Europe," Ferguson told reporters.

"We are going towards that now. They (Rooney and Van Persie) are two fantastic players and it will be great to have both of them. It gives us more strength and more combinations up front.

"It is a fantastic collection of players and hopefully I pick the right combinations. It is great to have a player of Robin van Persie's qualities to come into the squad. I am very pleased."

His arrival will almost certainly mean the departure of Bulgaria striker Dimitar Berbatov, who was the Premier League's joint top scorer in 2010-11 but spent most of last season on the bench as Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez partnered Rooney.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger will look to new signings Lukas Podolski of Germany and France's Olivier Giroud to fire the Gunners to a first trophy since beating United in the 2005 FA Cup final.

"We have regret because we have lost a great player," Wenger told a press conference ahead of Arsenal's season opener against Sunderland.

"He had only one year left on his contract and he wanted to go. We had anticipated this situation might happen therefore we have bought Podolski and Giroud. We were prepared."

Van Persie may not be the last player to leave the Emirates Stadium this transfer window, with reports suggesting midfielder Alex Song is on the verge of a move to Barcelona.

When asked about Song's possible departure and a potential Arsenal move for Real Madrid's Nuri Sahin, Wenger responded: "Both can happen."

Meanwhile, U.S. international Clint Dempsey is expected to leave Premier League club Fulham, having been linked with Liverpool.

The 29-year-old attacking midfielder, who scored 23 goals in all competitions last season, has been fined for refusing to play in Saturday's opening game against Norwich, according to the UK Press Association.

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