- Premier League
Wenger: Meulensteen behind Van Persie transfer
Arsene Wenger has insisted that the much-discussed telephone conversations he held with Sir Alex Ferguson in the summer of 2012 were not crucial to his decision to sell Robin van Persie to Manchester United.
It was believed that Ferguson's intervention was crucial to Arsenal opting to agree a move for their Dutch striker, but Wenger has dismissed that theory ahead of his latest meeting with his former captain on Sunday.
Instead, Wenger believes the influence of Ferguson's assistant coach Rene Meulensteen was behind Van Persie's desire to join United, as he re-visited a painful episode in his recent Arsenal career ahead of this weekend's trip to Old Trafford.
"Honestly, what convinced me in our talks [with Ferguson over Van Persie] was just his number [the fee] and it was the head to head talks I held with Robin van Persie many, many times that convinced me that I had to sell him," Wenger stressed.
"Robin van Persie has been convinced by the Dutch coach [Meulensteen] who was at Manchester United and that played a part in that.
"I think in the end I had to decide do I do this or not knowing that I would get huge criticism. At the end of the day, I felt it was the best thing to do.
"It's strange [to see him in a United shirt]. For me he is an Arsenal man. I took him when he was a very, very young man and we have gone together through very difficult periods. He became a world class player and for me, he is an Arsenal player.
"Robin van Persie was 29 when he left and he was impatient. Some players saw the other big clubs buying world name players and they lost a little bit of confidence we can compete with them. It's understandable, but we have always been consistent with how the club should be run and hopeful that we could turn the corner."
Wenger went on to warn his team that their early promise in the Premier League and Champions League will count for nothing unless they maintain their form in the coming months.
"There is a lot to do," he added. "We cannot come to the conclusion that we are in the position where we can relax. We have done well in the last two games, but we have won nothing yet.
"We have matured. We are not rushing in our play, we are not panicking. The confidence level is not set certain forever and it goes up and down with the results of the team. Because our recent results are good, the confidence is higher."
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