Robin van Persie will not travel with Arsenal on their tour of Asia, though Arsène Wenger is expected to cite fitness reasons for his absence rather than the captain's potential transfer from the club and the related distraction.
Van Persie has made it clear that he wants to leave and Manchester United, Manchester City and Juventus have each made bids for him, which Arsenal have rejected. The Manchester clubs' offers were pitched at around £12m while Juventus' was lower at £8m for a player who turns 29 next month and has 12 months to run on a contract that he does not intend to renew.
"Obviously, Arsenal have given out the fact that we've made a bid for him," Sir Alex Ferguson said. "We try to keep business as close as possible to us until the moment we conclude a deal. There's no point talking about something that might not happen. There are other clubs interested in the player. We've shown an interest and that's where we are at the moment."
Arsenal are resigned to losing their best player but they are holding firm for a minimum of £20m. They have already signed the strikers Lukas Podolski from Köln and Olivier Giroud from Montpellier for a combined £24m but Wenger could be expected to spend further if and when Van Persie departed.
Wenger has scrutinised Van Persie in training this week. The player returned on Monday after an extended break following his participation with Holland at Euro 2012, though he undertook only a medical assessment on that day.
He trained from Tuesday to Friday but Wenger has deemed that he is not ready for what will be a gruelling tour. The consequences of Van Persie, whose general fitness record is poor, sustaining an injury in Asia are unthinkable.
Arsenal travel on Saturday to Kuala Lumpur, where they play a Malaysia XI on Tuesday before they move to Beijing and Hong Kong. They face Manchester City in Beijing on Friday and Kitchee in Hong Kong a week on Sunday. Wenger would have preferred not to play City, given their pursuit of Van Persie.
The Arsenal manager is scheduled to give an interview to the club's in-house media channel on Saturday morning, in which he is expected to discuss Van Persie's fitness and play down the significance of the proposed transfer in the decision not to take him on tour.
It is notable, though, that Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who only returned to training on Thursday after England lasted longer at Euro 2012 than Van Persie's Holland did, will be on the plane to Kuala Lumpur.
The absence of the Arsenal captain on what is a commercial tour will be a huge disappointment to the club's burgeoning fan-base in Asia. Van Persie was one of the biggest draws of Arsenal's visit to Malaysia and China last summer, his every appearance on and off the pitch provoking a frenzied reaction.
Arsenal are desperate to avoid a rerun of last summer's transfer business, when the departures of Cesc Fábregas to Barcelona and Samir Nasri to City took place towards the end of the window and left the club in limbo. Wenger would make a frantic sweep of the market at the very last.
The signings of Podolski and Giroud have provided insurance in the event of Van Persie leaving but there is still the fear at the club that the saga will run and run.
City appear to be the best placed in financial terms to threaten Arsenal's asking price but they are conscious of the incoming financial fair play regulations and they must sell some of the strikers on their payroll to make way for Van Persie.
Each of the Dutchman's suitors will surely question the wisdom of meeting Arsenal's asking price now, when six weeks of the transfer window remain.
The club will not sell at a cut-price but they know that they may not get a high value quickly.
Wenger is yet to finalise his Asia tour squad, as he continues to ponder fitness issues. But Podolski will not travel, as Wenger reasons that he has not had a sufficient break after Euro 2012. Wenger likes to give his players four weeks off after a major tournament; Podolski played for Germany against Italy in the semi-final on 28 June.
Per Mertesacker, Wenger's other Germany international, has also been stood down. Arsenal have only one further friendly scheduled before they begin the new season – a game at Podolski's old club, Köln, on 12 August.
The injured Jack Wilshere, Bacary Sagna and Tomas Rosicky will not travel while the unwanted Nicklas Bendtner will remain in London. Laurent Koscielny, meanwhile, has agreed a new five-year contract.