Chelsea are ready to do battle with Juventus and Monaco for the signing of Manchester United's Robin van Persie, according to reports.
The Dutch striker is said to be interesting three of Europe's biggest clubs and could potentially leave Old Trafford in the summer, as revealed by Tuttosport (via Paul Gorst of the Mirror):
United are thought to be considering offloading the 30-year-old this summer as David Moyes continues his rebuilding at Old Trafford, and Chelsea have emerged as front-runners for the former Arsenal star's signature, according to Tuttosport.
[...] However, the Stamford Bridge outfit are set to be rivalled by Serie A champions Juventus and Ligue 1's Monaco.
Speculation surrounding van Persie's future has intensified since the player criticised his teammates after the Champions League loss to Olympiakos. He labelled the misfiring Red Devils "lousy," according to The Sun (via ESPN). He also said it's "a shame" his colleagues occupy the positions he wishes to fill, per Craig Hope of the Daily Mail.
The prolific forward is alleged to have apologised after his comments went global, according to David Anderson and Alan Nixon of the Mirror.
Van Persie has since pulled his colleagues aside at training to apologise for his remarks and claimed that he was talking about his own game rather than having a go at them—or their under-fire first-year manager David Moyes.
Even so, the Dutchman's comments have fuelled speculation suggesting he isn't happy at the club after the Daily Star (via James Boylan of the Metro) reported he "has not been impressed" by David Moyes' training methods.
Such reports may suggest a summer exit is possible, providing clubs such as Chelsea with the opportunity to capture one of the world's best strikers. Jose Mourinho said "we know what we want" when asked about bringing in a new attacking spearhead, per by James Goldman of Goal.com.
The Chelsea boss recently criticised his current trio of misfiring forwards in a private conversation that was leaked by French television channel Canal Plus, saying "the problem with Chelsea is we lack a scorer," per Dominic Fifield of The Guardian.
Although these comments suggest Fernando Torres, Samuel Eto'o and Demba Ba face an uncertain future at the club, van Persie's potential move may be a difficult one. United previously rejected the Blues' advances for Wayne Rooney and will be wary of strengthening their title rivals across the coming years.
This is exactly what Arsenal did when they sold van Persie to United, and he ended up scoring 26 goals in a title-winning debut campaign for the Old Trafford club. Juan Mata's move from Chelsea to United highlighted business can be done between the teams, but United are likely to prefer a move abroad if van Persie is to leave at all.
Gorst's report suggests Mourinho is also interested in landing Radamel Falcao, but could be put off by the Colombian's huge price tag, having cost Monaco £50 million back in 2013.
The principality's decision to move for van Persie could provide Chelsea with the leverage to land Falcao, especially as the Ligue 1 club will be wary of adhering to FIFA's Financial Fair Play rules with Champions League football looming next campaign.
Juventus were feverishly linked with signing van Persie before he headed to Manchester. Antonio Conte's side instead opted for Carlos Tevez and Fernando Llorente, both of whom have settled excellently into life in Serie A.
Van Persie has scored 12 goals in 21 appearances across the Premier League and Champions League this season, per WhoScored. His injury-ravaged campaign is one reason why United linger down in seventh and are likely to miss out on next season's elite European competition.
At 30 years old, van Persie may not fancy spending at least a year away from the Champions League. Each of the aforementioned teams are likely to offer him exposure on next season's coveted club stage, a prospect that is surely extremely attractive.
The Dutchman's qualities have been underlined by his ability to score even when playing poorly this season, suggesting there's plenty more to come from the experienced forward, no matter where he ends up.