• Premier League

Andre Santos sorry for Van Persie shirt-swap row

ESPN staff
November 6, 2012
Andre Santos has been heavily criticised © Getty Images

Andre Santos apologised to Arsenal fans for swapping shirts with former team-mate Robin van Persie, but he still faces being dropped to the bench for Tuesday's Champions League clash against Schalke.

Santos came in for criticism from the club's supporters after he was shown taking Van Persie's jersey at half-time of the Gunners' 2-1 loss to Manchester United on Saturday afternoon.

The 29-year-old admitted in the Sun newspaper that he would not have accepted the United shirt had he known the reaction it would cause, but claims it was Van Persie's idea.

"I'd like to apologise to supporters who felt aggrieved by it. Did I think it would cause such a commotion? Of course I didn't, otherwise I would have told Robin to exchange the shirts away from public view.

"Robin's departure to United did not turn him into an enemy for me. We remain friends and he talked about exchanging shirts, which is something players do all the time. I just want people to understand he is my friend and I wouldn't treat him differently because of the move to United.

"He approached me at half-time and at the time I did not think it would create such an uproar. I would never refrain from saying 'hi' to a good friend.

"It surprised me that people latched on to a gesture that promotes friendship and fair play. Arsene Wenger had asked the supporters to show respect towards Robin, after all."

Wenger, though, explained that he was not pleased with Santos' act. While he expressed an understanding of the cultural differences the Brazilian faces in England, Wenger insists he has made it clear why fans were angered.

"I believe that was not the right thing to do at all. I don't even understand it. It's interesting because Santos is a player who cares.

"It's about the result, about the team. That's the difference of culture. I can understand that an English guy doesn't understand it, I'm French and I don't understand it either.

"He is completely in a different world when he does that. He cares and he understands today what it means and, believe me, he will never do it again."

Meanwhile, widespread reports in the English press claim Santos will not start against Schalke, with captain Thomas Vermaelen set to take up the left-back role while Laurent Koscielny will return to central defence.

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