Arsene Wenger has revealed that he rejected the chance to re-sign Robin van Persie at Arsenal.
Van Persie enjoyed a successful spell under Wenger for Arsenal between 2004 and 2012. The Dutch striker scored 132 goals in 278 games for the Gunners.
However, after leaving the Emirates Stadium, he joined one of Arsenal’s rivals, signing on for Manchester United. He won the Premier League title there in his first season.
Van Persie was approaching the twilight of his career by then, though, and while reaching double figures in each of the next two seasons, he scored less in those combined than he had in his first year at Old Trafford.
Therefore, United let him go in 2015, when there was still one year left on his contract. Van Persie joined Fenerbahce in Turkey – but it could have been different.
According to former Arsenal boss Wenger, Van Persie contacted him when he was leaving United to see if he could return to London.
“In 2012, he announced his intention not to extend his contract [at Arsenal],” Wenger wrote in his new book, Arsene Wenger: My Life in Red and White.
“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 £24 million, 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.
“My relationship with Alex Ferguson and Manchester United had improved by then, but every transfer is a polite game of poker where you attempt to give not anything away.”
Van Persie return ‘impossible’
Wenger continued: “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.
“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.”