- Premier League
Wenger: Selling RvP to Man Utd a bitter pill to swallow
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger admits he would have preferred to sell Robin van Persie to an overseas club such as Paris Saint-Germain instead of Premier League rivals Manchester United.
Van Persie has undergone a medical with United on Thursday ahead of his prospective move to Old Trafford. Wenger, who earlier stated he had "no choice" but to part with the striker, says the Gunners were desperate to avoid van Persie moving to another Premier League club.
"That is the other negative point that we wanted to avoid at all costs but we couldn't," Wenger told French TV station TF1. "Honestly, I'd rather sell him abroad, to Paris Saint-Germain for example.
"Manchester United know him and know his qualities. He's an exceptional player in the pure sense of the term. I haven't seen many in my life who have that quality in the first touch, are so technically gifted and have that intelligence of movement in the final 20 metres.
"Van Persie is a great player so it's always sad to lose such a player. But we must consider the economic reality and the will of the player. When you can't succeed in extending the contract of a player that is in its last year, there is no other way but to let him go."
Juventus and Manchester City were the other clubs reportedly chasing Van Persie this summer, before United made a decisive £22 million bid for the Netherlands international.
Wenger, meanwhile, has spent £35 million during the transfer window and expects new signings Olivier Giroud, Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla to fill the void left by van Persie, who scored 30 league goals last term.
"It's sad because van Persie played for us for eight years," said Wenger. "He's 29 now. It's another bitter pill to swallow. A lot has happened before and we survived it all, but this is a real challenge because Van Persie scored 30 league goals in a year, almost one per game. It's a tough challenge for our new forwards to replace him.
"The economic part of it is the only satisfaction. But money doesn't go out on the field and play, players do. It will give more chance to Giroud. When Van Persie is here, his name is the first on the teamsheet and the others follow. So there's a void to fill. It's up to whoever wants to seize their chance."
Meanwhile, reports in the English press continue to link Arsenal with a loan move for Real Madrid midfielder Nuri Sahin despite the interests of Liverpool.