For all Sir Alex Ferguson's protestations over recent seasons of looking for value in the transfer market and Manchester United's focus on youth, there appeared a determination bordering on desperation to sign 29-year-old Robin van Persie.

At a reported £23 million, Van Persie will become United's biggest signing since the club paid their record transfer fee of £30.75 million for Dimitar Berbatov four years ago. Coming on the back of summer filled with further detrimental stories about the Galzers' ownership of the club, it is certainly a powerful statement.

After relinquishing the Premier League title to "noisy neighbors" Manchester City and crashing out of the Champions League in almost embarrassing circumstances, it seems that a marquee signing was what Ferguson felt was needed.

Not for the first time this summer, United lost out on prime targets to the riches on offer elsewhere. This time around it had been Eden Hazard and Lucas Moura, where in the past it had been Samir Nasri and Karim Benzema. The same looked likely to happen with Van Persie to City, until Ferguson seemingly made it a personal mission to ensure last season's Premier League top scorer came to Old Trafford.

But while it is a signing that makes headlines and is sure to generate huge excitement for United's fans, is it a good deal for the club?

United have balked at spending big in the past, especially on players over the age of 26, yet appear to have done so eagerly with Van Persie. There is certainly an element of surprise that the club's policy has been broken for a player who will reach the milestone of 30 next summer and has a consistent record of injuries. Indeed, last summer was only the second season since Van Persie joined Arsenal in 2004 in which he started more than half of their Premier League games.

Comparisons have been made by some pundits to United's deal for Ruud Van Nistelrooy in 2001, who went on to have an outstanding career at Old Trafford. However, there is a key difference between Van Nistelorooy, who had one serious injury, and Van Persie who has had a succession of injuries.

There is also no guarantee of Van Persie repeating his career-best form of last season. The former Feyenoord man was badly out of sorts for the Netherlands at Euro 2012, as he had been during the World Cup two years ago.

On his day, though, Van Persie is one of the best forwards around and could well have two or three outstanding seasons at United. In which case it would be deemed money well spent.

And, after the disappointment of last season, bringing in a player with the reputation of Van Persie can have a massive impact in shaking up and breathing new life into the squad.

However, few would have identified a high-profile forward as a major requirement at Old Trafford this summer. Michael Owen may have left and Dimitar Berbatov's departure has looked inevitable for some time, but the duo made just five Premier League starts between them last season.

Wayne Rooney is a dominant presence up front, while Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez offer youthful energy and determination in reserve. The signing of Shinji Kagawa, before Van Persie the marquee transfer of the summer, suggested that Ferguson intended to go with one man up front with the former Borussia Dortmund man being a pivotal presence in his favored position in behind.

Suddenly the arrival of Van Persie throws those plans up in the air. Will Kagawa's creativity be compromised by operating wide or in an orthodox midfield two? Or will Van Persie or Rooney be asked to play wide where both have operated to less effect at different stages of their careers?

These are the questions that Ferguson will now have to address.

While Ferguson must be slurping on his gum at the thought of the attacking options now at his disposal, it may be a different story if Van Persie's signing is found to have been at the expense of strengthening weaker areas of the squad.

Manchester United scored 89 goals last season, more than they had done since the 1999-2000 campaign. While that was four less than champions Manchester City, few would claim that the title was lost on that basis. The trophy was in United's hands until they threw a two-goal lead away against Everton in the final 10 minutes to draw 4-4.

In the Champions League too, United's failure certainly wasn't down to a lack of goals. Leads were thrown away at home against both Basel and Benfica to ultimately cost Ferguson's side a place in the knockout phase.

What United have missed for several season is a dominant performer in central midfield. With the signing of Van Persie that looks to be a void that will again go unfilled this summer.

Van Persie is the most exciting player to arrive at Old Trafford in many seasons and fans have every right to herald his arrival. But, at this stage, he is the icing on a cake that remains all too mushy in the middle.