Manchester United have been backed to win the race to sign Robin van Persie following Sir Alex Ferguson's comments about the Arsenal captain.
United, rivals Manchester City, and Serie A champions Juventus all tabled bids for Van Persie last month after he declared he had no plans to sign a new contract at Emirates Stadium.
Van Persie, who turned 29 earlier this week, is out of contract next summer and it is widely expected that he will leave Emirates Stadium this month.
Ferguson insisted on Wednesday night that United were "trying our best" to complete a deal for the Netherlands international, and bookmakers William Hill on Thursday afternoon were offering 6/4 that the forward starts United's opening game of the 2012-13 Premier League season away to Everton on Monday, August 20th.
Hill's spokesman Joe Crilly told Crunchsports.com: "Van Persie's exit from Arsenal looks to be inching ever closer and we think he could be lining up for United on the first day of the season."
Ferguson had said of United's pursuit of the Dutchman: "We've made a bid, they [Arsenal] have been trying to negotiate with other clubs.
"I don't have a gut feeling about it. We can't get a breakthrough with Arsenal."
It is understood Arsenal are reluctant to enter formal negotiations until a bid exceeds £20million. United are believed to have offered around £15m and have reservations about increasing their offer for a player who would have little, if any, resale value.
"I don't know what Arsenal's thoughts are because they're not giving anything away," the Scot told reporters after United's friendly against Barcelona in Gothenburg, which finished in a 0-0 draw before Barca won 2-0 on penalties.
"It's difficult to say why they're operating this way. I can't give you any more information. We just have to persevere.
"We are trying our best and hopefully it will come our way but there's no progress at this moment in time."
According to a report on Thursday, the deal is being held up as a result of demands being made by Van Persie's agent (see Related Articles).