Former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger’s autobiography has been the talk of the town recently. The legendary Frenchman has given an insight over his decisions during his time with us, and he explains a moment in 2015 that might surprise a few.
Wenger claims that former skipper Robin van Persie asked to return to Arsenal three years after leaving the Emirates. The Dutchman left us in the summer of 2012 for Manchester United, and the move sparked a lot of controversy among supporters.
Van Persie helped Sir Alex Ferguson’s side win the Premier League in his first season there, but things quickly changed. The legendary United boss left the club at the end of the Dutchman’s first season, and the Red Devils haven’t looked the same since.
Van Persie wanted to come back to Arsenal
A couple of seasons after that, van Persie had no place at Old Trafford and was asked to leave. The Dutchman, according to Wenger, asked the former Arsenal boss to take him back, but we had no interest in re-signing him in 2015.
The Frenchman wrote in his book ‘Arsene Wenger: My Life in Red and White’: In 2012, he announced his intention not to extend his contract. All the big clubs were courting him. I sold him to Manchester United. The supporters were angry with me for this but we could not match the offer.”
“I managed to negotiate his departure for £24million, which was a huge amount at the time for a player with a year left on his contract. I had only the interest of the club in mind. Van Persie had a fantastic first six months at Old Trafford: he put the team on track for the Premiership title and made it even more difficult for us.”
“But after three years of the four that he signed for, he was injured and Ferguson [note: it was actually Louis van Gaal] sold him to the Turkish club Fenerbahce. He called me because he wanted to come back, but it was impossible: he was at the end of his career and we were investing in young players.”
Was Wenger right to turn down van Persie?
The 2015/16 campaign was arguably our best chance of winning the Premier League in recent years. Arsenal finished the campaign as runners-up and Olivier Giroud received a ton of criticism for failing to get us the goals required to pip Leicester City for the top spot.
Van Persie could have potentially made a difference in that period. However, Wenger was right to turn him down. The Dutchman left us in a period where we needed him the most. He was our skipper, and committing his future at Arsenal could’ve helped us achieve a lot more than we did then.
Now retired, van Persie has had a lot to say about his departure from the Emirates. Earlier this year, the Dutchman claimed on The High Performance Podcast that he wasn’t offered a new contract by the Gunners. He also blamed Ivan Gazidis’ attitude in negotiations; something that didn’t go down well with Arsenal supporters.
Wenger’s words shed a lot of light on the truth. If a player announces ‘his intention not to extend his contract’, the club has no option but to find a buyer. Arsenal did just that, and he ended up moving to Old Trafford much to the anger and disappointment of everyone who supported him.