Sir Alex Ferguson has taunted Manchester City ahead of Monday's derby encounter by claiming Manchester United striker Robin van Persie had never planned to move to the Etihad Stadium from Arsenal during the summer transfer window of last year.

Manchester City and Manchester United both appeared to be in contention to sign Van Persie from Arsenal after the Dutch striker expressed his desire to leave the Emirates Stadium, and it was the Red Devils who were able to capture his signature.

Roberto Mancini has lamented Manchester City's inability to land their top targets last year and, it is claimed, Van Persie was placed at the very top of the list of players the Italian had hoped to sign to reinforce his title winning team.

Ferguson, however, says that, despite their interest, Manchester City were never close to completing a deal for Van Persie, who joined Manchester United for £24 million, and has hailed the impact of the 29-year-old since his arrival at Old Trafford.

"It's hypothetical, he was never going to City," the United manager said, as reported by Sky Sports.

"He's been fantastic for us, a really good footballer. We needed a bit of maturity up front and he's been terrific.

"The improvement is not just through Robin but even when he doesn't score he's a fantastic footballer."

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