Manchester City are widely considered to be front-runners to poach Van Persie and it would represent a significant surprise were United to try and compete with, never mind, succeed in, trumping the financial muscle of their local rivals.
A similar scenario unfolded last summer when both Manchester clubs went head-to-head over an Arsenal player entering the final year of his contract. On that occasion, City came out on top to secure the services of Samir Nasri.
With Van Persie's age also a factor-he turns 29 next month-it is difficult to envisage United sanctioning a £20 million-plus offer as well as the bumper wage packet it would take to acquire last season's Premier League Golden Boot winner.
Speculation too has continued over the future of another of this transfer window's most coveted assets, Luka Modric. There has at last been some official comments on the saga with Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas revealing that the club were talking to several interested parties about the Croatian playmaker's future.
The interest that we have from various different clubs shows the importance of the player and what he has done for Tottenham, Villas-Boas told Sky Sports News.
I think it is fair to say we respect Luka's ambitions and his willingness to move on, and I think Luka respects as well that he is an important player for the club who can help us move forward.
I think ongoing discussions with these various clubs will continue until we reach an agreement which is sensible for each party.
The comments suggest that, despite reports suggesting that Real Madrid were on the verge of wrapping up a deal, the likes of Manchester United could still very much be in the running.
In his interview, Villas-Boas also said that he was keen on United-target Joao Moutinho. The words from Spurs' new boss were backed up by the Daily Mirror, which claimed that the Porto midfielder could soon be heading to White Hart Lane. United had been strongly linked to the Portugal international should they fail in their attempts to sign Modric.
As Ferguson attempts to bolster his midfield this summer, United have also been mentioned in connection with a move for Benfica's Axel Witsel. The technically-gifted, yet combative central midfielder impressed for the Lisbon giants during their run to the Champions League quarterfinals last season.
Despite the reported interest, Benfica sporting director Rui Costa has claimed that there are no offers on the table for the Belgium international.
Witsel is a player of Benfica and he is doing the pre-season with us, the former Portugal great said, according to Goal.com.
We are only thinking about the Eusebio Cup [against Real Madrid] and not about transfers. Every player who is in pre-season training belongs to Benfica and there are no ongoing negotiations.