MANCHESTER – Robin van Persie's influence at Manchester United can be compared to the striking transformation brought by the signing of Eric Cantona, according to manager Alex Ferguson.
The former Arsenal talisman has scored 15 goals since signing for United, drawing similarities with Frenchman Cantona, whose arrival at Old Trafford was the catalyst in which they claimed the league title for the first time in 26 years.
In the programme for Wednesday's home game against Newcastle United , Ferguson said: "I reckon here at Manchester United we got our Christmas present early - right at the start of the season in fact when Robin van Persie arrived at Old Trafford.
"I am reluctant to subscribe to the cult of an individual because I firmly believe the essence of a successful football team depends on teamwork, and neither are we a one-man team, but sometimes there really is a situation where you are lucky enough to find the last piece of the jigsaw."
Cantona was signed from Leeds United for £1.2million in 1992, with Ferguson's side lagging in eighth place, but he galvanised the team who went on to win the 1993 title by ten points - the first of Ferguson's 12 Premier League crowns.
"We did it when we brought Eric Cantona to Old Trafford where he proved to be the right player at the right club at the right time," Ferguson said.
"He became the catalyst and springboard for our surge to success.
"It doesn't have to be signing someone for a record fee. Cristiano Ronaldo was not a record buy either but he certainly made a difference as he prospered with us to the extent that he came to be regarded by a lot of people as the world's best player."