May 22 2013 Latest news:
Friday, August 17, 2012
Transfer news: Arsene Wenger keeping the faith but admits goal ace’s departure is a blow
Arsene Wenger admits seeing captain Robin van Persie sold to Manchester United was a bitter pill to swallow, but he still believes Arsenal will compete without their star striker.
The Holland international is in the process of finalising the formalities of a £24million switch to Old Trafford, having earlier in the summer announced he would not be signing a new deal with the Gunners.
Arsenal were prepared to make their key striker, who last season bagged 30 Premier League goals, the highest paid player in the club’s history, but reluctantly agreed to sanction his departure when it became clear Van Persie wanted to move.
It is another blow to Wenger’s vision of building a young squad capable of dominating Europe - having seen Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri also both leave last summer, while Cameroon midfielder Alex Song has been linked with a £15million switch to Barcelona.
The Arsenal manager admits Van Persie - who plundered 37 goals in all competitions in an injury-free season - will be tough to replace.
“Robin is 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,” said Wenger, during a stint as a media pundit for French TV station TF1.
“Unfortunately, there is an economic reality and the desire of the player. There is no other way but to let him go.
“It is another pill to swallow, we have swallowed other ones and we have always survived, but he scored 30 goals for us in the league last season, practically one every match.”
Wenger added: “The economic factor is the sole satisfying thing, but you don’t play with money on the pitch, you play with the quality of the players. To lose a player of this ilk is tough.”
The summer additions Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski will, however, go some way to offsetting the loss to the squad, as will the arrival of Spain midfielder Santi Cazorla.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (ankle) and Theo Walcott (thigh) will be assessed after both pulled out of England’s game against Italy in Berne with injuries.
Arsenal Latest - Opinionated blogs from Gunners fans