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Cisse: A return to football possible

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Ferguson steps up Van Persie pursuit

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson missed his side's pre-season friendly with Hannover on Saturday night as he steps up his efforts to sign Robin van Persie.

• Hannover 3-4 Manchester United
• Live On The Move: Transfer Blog

Shinji Kagawa scored the winner as United came back from two goals down to gain a 4-3 victory in Germany, but Ferguson stayed in England to help Red Devils chief executive David Gill work on a deal to bring Van Persie to Old Trafford.

Gill has been in London negotiating with the Gunners this weekend, with United having already had a £15 million offer rejected for the PFA and Football Writers' Association's Player of the Year.

United are likely to have to increase that to £20 million to persuade Arsenal to sell Van Persie, whose contract expires next summer.

The official reason given for the absence of Ferguson, who also missed last weekend's friendly against Valerenga in Norway, was that he was on "other club business".

His assistant Mike Phelan, who took charge of United for the Hannover game, was non-committal when asked about Van Persie, but United are keen to secure his signature, particularly after losing out to a late bid from Paris Saint-Germain for Lucas Moura last week.

Van Persie, 29, is expected to play in Arsenal's final pre-season friendly against Cologne in Germany on Sunday, before joining up with the Netherlands squad for a midweek friendly against Belgium.

It would be the Dutchman's first match action of any description since his country's group-stage exit from Euro 2012 in June, and Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal has expressed concerns about his fitness.

Van Gaal said: "Robin will play his first game this Sunday. He has told me he is at least going to play 45 minutes this weekend. It is a good job, because I almost had not selected him."

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